WTA Finals race heats up as Maria Sakkari, Daria Kasatkina, Caroline Garcia, Madison Keys all win

Delight for Maria Sakkari

Maria Sakkari, Daria Kasatkina, Caroline Garcia, Madison Keys and Elena Rybakina all won on Tuesday to keep their hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals alive.

The race is effectively down to 13 players competing for five spots with Petra Kvitova and Barbora Krejcikova falling off the bandwagon at the Guadalajara Open.

Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula are the three players who have confirmed their spots for the season-ending tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, but there are a host of players competing for the remaining places.

Those players are Coco Gauff, Aryna Sabalenka, Kasatkina, Garcia, Sakkari, Veronika Kudermetova, Keys, Belinda Bencic, Paula Badosa, Danielle Collins, Jelena Ostapenko, Liudmila Samsonova and Rybakina.

Sakkari, Kasatkina, Garcia, Rybakina, Keys, Ostakenko and Collins all won.

Fourth-seeded Greek Sakkari got the job done with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Marta Kostyuk and she could be involved in a shootout with Collins, who defeated Caroline Dolehide in her opener to set up a clash against Magdalena Frech, in the third round.

Also in Section 2, 12th seed Ostapenko defeated qualifier Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-3 and her reward is an encounter against wildcard Eugenie Bouchard.

Kasatkina, meanwhile, was too good for Zhu Lin as the 6-1, 6-2 and she will face either Elise Mertens or Anna Kalinskaya in the third round after the latter ended Barbora Krejcikova’s WTA Finals hopes with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Russian Kasatkina, though, is not thinking about the season-ending tournament just yet.

“As much as I was trying to push away the thought of the Finals, to trick myself, I cannot,” she told WTA Insider.

“I just have to accept this pressure and face it the way I can. It’s the first time I actually have a chance to compete, not as an alternate, so it’s stressful. But the way I am doing on the court, I’m pretty happy.”

She added: “I’m not in a bad position. And after this match I’m in an even better position. That’s why this was a really important one and now I feel I put the heavy backpack down.”

Garcia just did enough as she had to go the distance against qualifier Rebecca Marino, winning 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) and she will face either Belinda Bencic or Sloane Stephens in the third round.

Wimbledon champion Rybakina needs to win the tournament to qualify and she is still alive as she beat Karoline Pliskova 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, but she has a tough second-round encounter against Pegula.

Former US Open runner-up Madison Keys defeated Magda Linette 6-3, 6-3, but two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova is out of the race as she was beaten 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 by Bianca Andreescu, who will face either Rybakina or Pegula in the third round.

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