Sakkari, Sabalenka cause WTA Finals upsets

Maria Sakkari has beaten Jessica Pegula in the opening round-robin singles match of the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, avenging her loss to the American in the Guadalajara final eight days ago.

For Sakkari, who reached the semi-finals of the 2021 WTA Finals, the 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) victory over world No.3 Pegula marked her first top-five win of the year.

The first set lasted 71 minutes - a minute longer than their entire Guadalajara final - and Sakkari secured it on her third set point of the tiebreak with a forehand passing shot.

The Greek raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second set before Pegula battled back, saving a couple of match points and holding serve to force another tiebreak. However, she was unable to send the match to a deciding set.

"It's never easy against Jess. She's an amazing player, she's very confident right now," world No.5 Sakkari said. "I knew it was going to be extremely tough but I fought hard and trusted my game."

Later on the opening day, No.7 Sabalenka came back to beat two-time grand slam runner-up and world No.2 Ons Jabeur 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after being two points from defeat.

Jabeur led 5-3 in the tiebreaker but Sabalenka grabbed the next four points in a row to force a third set.

"Don't look at the score," Sabalenka said she told herself. "Just keep trying."

A resigned Jabeur, who meets Pegula on Wednesday in the round-robin format, said afterward: "I missed my chances."