Aryna Sabalenka secures ‘miracle’ win over Ons Jabeur while Maria Sakkari gets revenge against Jessica Pegula

A delighted Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari were the winners on day one of the WTA Finals in Fort Worth as they edged Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula respectively in Group Nancy Richey.

World No 7 Sabalenka was staring defeat in the face as she found herself 2-4 down in the deciding set against second seed Jabeur, but somehow managed to pull off 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 win in two hours and 28 minutes at Dickies Arena in Texas.

Wimbledon and US Open runner-up Jabeur broke in the first game of the match and again in game nine to comfortably take the opening set.

Sabalenka hit back in the second set as she raced into a 3-0 lead with two breaks before Jabeur got one break back to reduce the deficit to 3-1. They traded a couple more breaks, but the Belarusian stayed ahead and had a set point on the Jabeur serve in game nine. However, the Tunisian saved it and then broke back to take it to a tie-breaker, which Sabalenka edged.

After losing her serve in the third game, Sabalenka looked set to lose, but she broke to love in game eight and claimed the decisive break in game 12.

“Somehow another miracle happened for me and I was able to win this match,” the seventh seed said after the match.

She added: “I was just like, ‘Keep trying, keep fighting, and make sure that if she wants to win this match, she has to do something great, not like an easy win.’ And I think that’s why I put a little bit more pressure on her and in the key moments, I was able to win it.”

Sakkari, meanwhile, changed her tactics from a week ago when she lost in the final of the Guadalajara Open in Mexico against Pegula.

The American won in straight sets on that occasion, but on Monday the Greek got the job done with a 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) win.

Both players struggled on serve in the opening set as they shared six breaks of serve before Sakkari’s aggressive tactics paid off in the tie-breaker.

After a break each in the second set, Sakkari had two match points on the Pegula serve in game 12, but the third seed held firm only for Sakkari to edge the second tie-breaker and the match.

“I was very aggressive,” she said. “If you’re passive, Jess is just going to make you run – she’s going to hit the ball very hard, and it’s over.

“I think it’s always easier for the player that loses the first match than the player that wins. The player that wins has all the pressure. I don’t think it ever crossed her mind that it’s going to be an easy match because she beat me a week ago. I never felt like she underestimated me today.”

READ MORE: Watch: Ons Jabeur spooks Iga Swiatek and Caroline Garcia