CANCUN, Mexico -- On Wednesday night, Ons Jabeur reminded us again there is much more to her than tennis. After winning her first match at this year’s GNP Seguros WTA Finals, the Tunisian tearfully told the crowd she was donating some of her winnings to Palestinian aid.

“It’s very sad,” Jabeur told reporters later, referring to the conflict in Gaza. “It’s been happening for weeks and weeks and honestly just a tennis match doesn’t mean anything in front of what’s happening right now.”

It was a somber and appropriate time to reflect on world events, but going into Friday -- the last day of round-robin play -- there remains some on-court business to attend to. Believe it or not, all four players in the Chetumal Group are still technically alive.

Here are the scenarios:

  • If Swiatek defeats Jabeur and Gauff bests Vondrousova, Swiatek wins the group and Gauff is second.
  • If Jabeur and Vondrousova both win their matches against Swiatek and Gauff, respectively, Jabeur wins the group with Swiatek second.
  • Vondrousova needs to both defeat Gauff in straight sets, and for Swiatek to beat Jabeur in straight sets, to have a chance of advancing. In that scenario, Swiatek would win the group, and second place would be decided by game percentage between the remaining three players with a 1-2 record.
  • If Vondrousova wins in straight sets but Swiatek wins in three, then Swiatek tops the group with Jabeur second.
  • The only scenario in which Swiatek potentially fails to advance is if she loses to Jabeur in straight sets, combined with a Gauff victory in straight sets. In that case, Swiatek, Jabeur and Gauff would be tied with a 2-1 match record and 4-2 set record, and the semifinalists would be decided by game percentage.

Let’s get to those critical matchups:

[2] Iga Swiatek vs. [6] Ons Jabeur

The case for Swiatek: Because the seeding is unsettled, Swiatek will not take anything for granted here.

The 22-year-old from Poland holds a 4-2 head-to-head edge, but they haven’t played a complete match since the 2022 US Open final. Swiatek won in straight sets, but the clincher came in a tightly contested tiebreak.

At the moment, no one is playing better than Swiatek, who can still regain the No.1 ranking she carried for 75 weeks. She’s won eight straight matches, going back to her title at the China Open in Beijing. Calling her dominant might be underselling it.

In her 6-0, 7-5 win over Gauff, Swiatek posted her 22nd 6-0 set of the season. That matches last year’s total; in the past 30 years, only Serena Williams (25 in 2013) had more.

The case for Jabeur: She knows that, in a big spot, she’s done this before.

Two years ago in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Jabeur lost the first set 7-5 -- and came back, winning 12 of the last 14 games.

The only time they played this year, in the Stuttgart semifinals, Jabeur retired after three games with a left calf injury. It’s been that kind of year for the 29-year-old, so Jabeur has to feel like she’s playing with house money.

- Insights from
iga swiatek
More Head to Head
71.4% Win 5
- Matches Played
28.6% Win 2
ons jabeur

“Iga is a very smart person and she knows how to adapt to these conditions,” Jabeur said. “I’m going to try to enjoy this game. Try to play freely. Try to let go some of the anger that I have and hope for the best.”

Jabeur now has a formidable 5-3 record this year against Top 10 players.

[3] Coco Gauff vs. [7] Marketa Vondrousova

The case for Gauff: They’ve met twice, and Gauff came away the victor each time -- recently in Montreal and two years ago in Dubai.

“It’s going to be a tricky matchup because I haven’t played a lefty in a while,” Gauff said. “And even though she didn’t have the results so far this tournament, she can be a tricky player to play. She can play some great shots, she can play aggressive, she can play defensive.”

For the record, Gauff has won her past nine WTA Tour matches against left-handers and is 12-3 overall.

She’ll be highly motivated for this one after the loss to Swiatek -- and following the 0-3 singles record she produced at last year’s Fort Worth Finals.

“I’m really just going to have to try to mentally stay there,” Gauff said. “I think it’s going to be a fight on Friday.”

The case for Vondrousova: As long as the odds are against her, any scenario for her advancement to the semifinals begins with a victory over Gauff.

Her general history suggests it’s possible. On the way to the Wimbledon title, Vondrousova defeated Top 10 players Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals and Jabeur in the final.

The 24-year-old from the Czech Republic is 5-8 against Top 10 players in 2023.