Aryna Sabalenka stuns Iga Swiatek at WTA Finals: ‘I gave her a lot of easy matches this season’

A delighted Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka produced some “unbelievable tennis” to get the better pre-tournament favourite Iga Swiatek and set up a final showdown with Caroline Garcia at the WTA Finals.

Swiatek had dominated the WTA Tour this year – winning eight titles, including the French Open and US Open – and came through the group stage without dropping a set.

The world No 1 had also won all four of her previous meetings against Sabalenka this year, but it was the Belarusian who clinched a 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 win in just over two hours in Fort Worth, Texas.

After saving two break points in the opening game of the match, Sabalenka broke Swiatek only for the Pole hit back immediately. The former world No 2 broke again to lead 3-1. She wrapped up the set with a third break in game eight.

It was a determined Swiatek that came out in the second set as she raced into a 4-0 lead, and although Sabalenka got one break back, the top seed broke again to take the match to a decider.

The seventh seed then put her foot on the accelerator as she broke in games four and seven to ease to victory.

“The only thing I had in my mind was just make her work. And that’s it,” Sabalenka said.

“It’s only because of that I was able to show unbelievable tennis tonight and get this win.”

She added: I gave her a lot of easy matches this season, and I think that’s enough for her. I wanted to make sure that, every time she plays against me, she knows she has to work hard to get a win. It was only because of this thinking that I was able to play such an amazing level tonight.”

She will face Garcia in Monday evening’s final after the Frenchwoman brushed aside Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-2 in just 75 minutes.

The sixth seed broke in games four and six of the first set, although Sakkari also got a break in game five, and in games one and three of the second set.

Garcia’s win came after a gruelling three-set victory over Daria Kasatkina the previous day.

“Yesterday, I was a little bit tired – nothing unusual after such a big match,” she said. “This morning, obviously the legs were a bit heavy, but I was just so excited, the emotion and the win yesterday to be playing a semifinal today of the WTA Finals.

“I was feeling very pumped. This morning I talked to my physio [Laura Legoupil] and I said, `I hope it’s going to last long enough to go to the match.'”