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Swiatek beats Gauff at WTA Finals as Gauff struggles with double faults

Iga Swiatek Iga Swiatek - The Canadian Press

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff double-faulted four times in a row while serving for the second set and wound up losing 6-0, 7-5 to four-time major title winner Iga Swiatek in round-robin action at the WTA Finals on a windy Wednesday night.

“A tough day in the office for me,” said Gauff, who also lost a doubles match Wednesday. “I mentally didn’t stay in it when I was serving for it.”

She said the wind didn't help things, nor did a recent break of about two weeks without serving because of a shoulder injury.

“I have done well throughout the year, serving well,” the third-seeded Gauff said, “so I’m not going to let ... (a) bad two games define how I serve.”

There were plenty of empty seats at the temporary hard court — and Swiatek noticed.

“It's a shame that we don’t have a full stadium,” she said afterward.

“Hopefully for the future, there’s not going to be any more situation like that, and they’re going to work to improve that,” the second-seeded Swiatek said.

The WTA's decision to host the event in Cancun was not announced until September.

In the other singles match on Day 4 at the season-ending championship — which is for the top eight players in women’s tennis — three-time major runner-up Ons Jabeur defeated Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-3. Jabeur lost to Vondrousova in the final at the All England Club in July.

Jabeur, a Tunisian who was the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final, told the crowd after her win Wednesday that she will donate part of her prize money "to help the Palestinians. ... It is not a political message. It is humanity. I want peace in this world.”

Israel has been carrying out military operations in Gaza in response to the attack by Hamas on a Jewish holiday last month.

The two women who will advance to the semifinals from this group will be determined Friday, when Swiatek (who is 2-0 so far) faces Jabeur (1-1), and Gauff (1-1) meets Vondrousva (0-2).

On Wednesday, Gauff led 4-2 in the second set, then was a game away from forcing a third while serving at 5-4. The teenager from Florida went up 15-love, then dropped the game with the series of double-faults. After the fourth, Gauff spiked her racket, then picked it up and tossed it at her bench as she walked to the sideline.

That was part of a stretch in which the American lost nine points in a row and 12 of the last 13 against Swiatek, who improved to 9-1 against Gauff.

Earlier, Gauff chucked her racket after one errant backhand return late in the lopsided opening set.

“The first set,” Gauff said, “went fast.”

That was the 22nd 6-0 set won in 2023 by Swiatek, a 22-year-old from Poland who was ranked No. 1 for nearly 1 1/2 years until Aryna Sabalenka overtook her after the U.S. Open in September. Swiatek is the first woman to win at least 20 sets by a 6-0 score in two consecutive seasons since Steffi Graf and Monica Seles both did it in 1991-92.

Gauff and Jessica Pegula, who qualified for the singles semifinals with a victory Tuesday, lost their doubles match to Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 3-6, 7-5, 10-6 in Wednesday’s final contest.


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