While Group Teotihuacán entered its final round-robin day with three players in contention for a second semifinal place and a variety of scenarios in play, Group Chichén Itzá has played out more straightforwardly.

Paula Badosa's straight-set defeats of Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari have not only assured the Spaniard of semifinal advancement but top spot in the group. Iga Swiatek's losses to Sakkari and Sabalenka mean that she is eliminated.

The second semifinal spot will go to the winner of Sabalenka and Sakkari's clash Monday.

[5] Iga Swiatek (POL) vs. [7] Paula Badosa (ESP)

There's no getting around the fact the first singles match won't affect the standings in their group. Badosa won the group, Swiatek has been eliminated, and nothing that happens here will alter those things.

Photo by WTA

But despite little being on the line - aside from 250 points for the winner - there's still motivation and intrigue. The Indian Wells champion Badosa is now on an eight-match winning streak. Like Anett Kontaveit, it's evident momentum has been a crucial factor for two players who qualified for the WTA Finals via last-minute surges. Badosa and Kontaveit are dialled in competitively, and they will want to avoid any dip in intensity.

Champion's Reels: Paula Badosa, Belgrade | Paula Badosa, Indian Wells

For Swiatek, this match will be a point of pride. As the only Grand Slam champion in her group, going 0-3 in her WTA Finals debut would be somewhat anticlimactic. Moreover, there's a painful loss to exorcise. Swiatek's Olympic dream was ended 6-3, 7-6(4) by Badosa in the second round of Tokyo this summer, a defeat that left her in tears afterward.

Perhaps most important for Swiatek will be simply delivering a strong performance. While the three-set loss to Sabalenka was a step up from her opening defeat by Sakkari, the Pole aims to continue her improvement.

"Of course I'm not happy that I lost, but I'm pretty happy that I overcome some issues that I had during the last match," she said. "For sure my performance was better, my attitude was better.

"I feel like I kind of won today, 2-1 maybe, because I won against my stress and a little bit of fear, but I lost against Aryna."

Champion's Reels: Iga Swiatek, Adelaide | Iga Swiatek, Rome

Much of that was down to Swiatek's ability to adjust tactically to Sabalenka. With all the pressure off her shoulders in terms of result, she will be able to focus purely on the process against Badosa.

"I just hope we're going to make a good show," she said. "Just finishing the season with a good performance is my goal."

Head-to-head: Badosa leads 1-0.

aryna sabalenka
More Head to Head
57.1% Win 4
- Matches Played
42.9% Win 3
maria sakkari

[1] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) vs. [4] Maria Sakkari (GRE)

In contrast to the first singles match, everything is on the line in the second clash of the day, which is a straight battle to reach the semifinals between two players whose fortunes have fluctuated so far.

After Sakkari's first match, she was riding high. Her game was in top condition, her execution flawless and her serve in particular seemed invincible. But by winning 26 of 27 first-serve points against Swiatek, Sakkari ran into an opponent whose superior returning took that weapon away from her. She was only able to win 51% of her first-serve points against Badosa, who broke serve three times.

One third of the way through Sabalenka's tie with Swiatek, the Belarusian had failed to change her narrative, having added a third disastrously error-strewn set to the two she had played against Badosa. But she can draw tremendous confidence from finally harnessing her game as the match went on.

Champion's Reels: Aryna Sabalenka, Abu Dhabi | Aryna Sabalenka, Madrid

Sabalenka won over 84% of her first-serve points in the second and third sets - and perhaps more importantly, managed to gut out a close third set. That had been something of a weakness over the course of the season. She came into the WTA Finals with a 9-13 record in three-setters in 2021, including losses in each of the Grand Slams.

Sabalenka can also look to the head-to-head to underline her potential advantage over a suddenly shaken Sakkari. She leads the series 4-1, including the last four matches, since losing to Sakkari in their first meeting at Cincinnati 2019, Sabalenka has dropped only one set to her.

Head-to-head: Sabalenka leads 4-1. Sakkari won their first encounter 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 in the third round of Cincinnati 2019. Since then, Sabalenka has been victorious in straight sets in the 2019 Zhuhai round robin, the third round of Doha 2020 and this year's Abu Dhabi semifinals; and in three sets in the first round of Dubai 2020.


Starting at 2pm
[5] Iga SWIATEK (POL) vs [7] Paula BADOSA (ESP)
[1] Barbora KREJCIKOVA (CZE) / Katerina SINIAKOVA (CZE) vs [6] Alexa GUARACHI (CHI) / Desirae KRAWCZYK (USA)
Not before 7.30pm
[1] Aryna SABALENKA (BLR) vs [4] Maria SAKKARI (GRE)
[3] HSIEH Su-Wei (TPE) / Elise MERTENS (BEL) vs [8] Sharon FICHMAN (CAN) / Giuliana OLMOS (MEX)