Spain’s Paula Badosa fired 10 aces in a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 round-robin victory over Maria Sakkari Saturday, remaining unbeaten in the season-ending WTA Finals. Badosa, whose late season run of form included her biggest title to date at the pandemic-delayed hardcourt tournament in Indian Wells, California, in October, had already posted a convincing victory over tournament top seed Aryna Sabalenka to open group play. With her second victory she appeared on track to reach the knockout phase as one of the top two on her four-woman group, but she had to await the result of the night match between Iga Swiatek and Sabalenka to see if she would be assured of a semi-final spot before playing her third round-robin match.
The elite eight-player event was moved to Guadalajara from Shenzhen, China, this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
World number one Ashleigh Barty of Australia is not defending her title because of continuing pandemic travel restrictions.
Saturday’s clash between Badosa and Sakkari, the first Greek to qualify for the Finals, was the first meeting between the two.
Badosa needed just over two hours to stretch her current WTA winning streak to eight matches. After eking out the first-set tiebreaker, she grabbed an early break on the way to a 3-1 lead in the second set.
Unable to capitalize on a string of break chances in the fifth game, Badosa was broken herself as Sakkari knotted the set at 4-4.
Badosa responded immediately with a break for 5-4 and a chance to serve out the match, sealing it with a backhand winner on her third match point.