2022 WTA Finals, Day 5: Krawczyk reaches doubles semifinals; Pegula closes out week
Desirae Krawczyk will fly the U.S. flag in the semifinals of the WTA Finals Fort Worth after she and partner Demi Schuurs beat China's Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan in Friday's winner-take-all round-robin finale.
Both teams were 1-1 in the Rosie Casals Group—each with wins against Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, and defeats to Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova—and the mission was simple: Win, and you're in. At the end of 94 minutes, those winners were Krawczyk and Schuurs by a 7-6(2), 6-3 final score.
After Krawczyk was broken at love in the first game, she and Schuurs found another gear late in the opener; they broke Yang's serve when the Chinese pair served for the set, and later won the last four points of the tiebreak to cement their lead. The two teams traded breaks six times in the second set, but Krawczyk and Schuurs steadied in the last three games. With Schuurs serving at deuce in the eighth game, the pair won a crucial deciding point for the set's only hold, and they broke Yang again to seal their place in the semifinals.
"It was a great match," Krawczyk said. "They're a great team, and I think we just did what we did best. We started being aggressive and taking it to them, and in the pressure situations, I think we did a good job of playing smart in those points."
After being eliminated in the group stage alongside then-partner Alex Guarachi when the Finals were held in Guadalajara last year, Krawczyk is now through to the knockout rounds in her second appearance. Schuurs has now reached the semifinals in three of her four apperances, with three different partners.
"I always say, you win together and you lose together," Schuurs said. "Today, Desirae played an amazing match."
Elsewhere, Pegula's week in ended with two more defeats. Entering Friday, she had a mathematical shot to reach the singles semifinals, but needed to beat Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets to do so. Sabalenka's eventual 6-3, 7-5 win not only eliminated Pegula but, coupled with Maria Sakkari's 6-3, 6-2 win over Ons Jabeur, put her into the final four.
"It's always hard playing Aryna, as well as every single match here, but I wasn't really feeling too great today," Pegula, who dropped to 1-4 against Sabalenka all-time, said in defeat. "I haven't been feeling very good the last couple days, so it was a little tough out there. I wish I could have had a little bit more energy for the fans, so that was just disappointing. Aryna played a great match, so it was a good one for her."
While going 0-6 across singles and doubles at her first WTA Finals is a tough pill to swallow, Pegula says she hopes the recent memory won't take the shine off of the body of work of her career year that saw her win her first WTA 1000 singles title in Gaudalajara, Mexico; reach three Grand Slam quarterfinals in singles; win three titles with Gauff and reach the Roland Garros final in doubles; and break into the Top 5 of both the WTA singles and doubles rankings.
"It's always tough but that's tennis," Pegula said. "You have one good week, and then you're right back at it the next week. There's just a lot of really highs and really low lows. I feel like this was a reward for me at the end of the year to be able to come and play the Finals, and to finish winning Guadalajara was obviously a huge accomplishment for me.
"But yeah, the celebrations definitely get cut short when you show up here and I lose three matches. You're kind of down in the dumps again about your performance.
"I feel like I keep telling myself, 'I had such a great year,' but the tough thing with tennis is you end the year really well, and then I come here and I lose all my matches. I don't think I've lost this many matches in a short amount of time. This is like the same amount in like, I don't know, three months or something almost, which is great for me that I have this year but definitely not used to it.
"It's definitely going to be an adjustment but I feel like once I can be home and reset and relax a little bit, I can always look at the positives throughout the year and everything I've accomplished and be able to celebrate that a little bit more than this week."
Gauff, already mathematically eliminated from semifinal contention in the Tracy Austin Group, will end her tournament on Saturday against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek. As the No. 2-finishers in their group, Krawczyk and Schuurs will have a day off before facing Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens, the winners of the Pam Shriver Group, in Sunday's semifinals.
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