By Sigurd Neubauer
Iga Świątek, 22, trounced Jessica Pegula, 29, 6-1, 6-0 at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico. “The Pole won all of the big points during the first set as Pegula ‘was clearly running out of gas’ during the second set,” says President Vesa Ponkka of the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC). He attributes Świątek’s lopsided victory to a combination of Świątek playing really well and Pegula below her own level.
For Świątek, 2023 has been a great year. She won the French Open at Roland Garros this season for the third time to claim her fourth Grand Slam title. She closes out the year by maintaining the WTA’s world No. 1 ranking. “It doesn’t get much better than this,” explains Ponkka who is also one of America’s preeminent tennis coaches.
Pegula has also had a great year, finishing as the WTA’s world No. 5. Pegula is close friends with Coco Gauf – who broke through this year – by winning three consecutive tournaments, including the US Open. The two form one of the top doubles teams in the world. “I expect Gauff to be No. 1 next year; she’ll be winning a lot as she taken her game to the next level,” Ponkka says. Gauff is No. 3.
Commenting on what the WTA Finals symbolizes, the JTCC President points out that it is the most important annual tournament after the four Grand Slams. “The eight highest ranked players compete and are separated into two groups.”
I was surprised how easily Pegula defeated Gauff in the semifinals (6-2 6-1)
Some players expressed discontent with the playing conditions and organization in Cancun: Ponkka