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2023 WTA Finals: Coco Gauff routs Ons Jabeur for first win in Chetumal Group

Victoria Chiesa | October 30, 2023


Coco Gauff's second appearance at the WTA Finals is already going better than her first.

 

The reigning US Open champion, seeded No. 3 in the eight-woman year-end event, opened round-robin play in the Chetumal Group in Cancun on Monday with a resounding 6-0, 6-1 win over No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur.

 

Gauff went 0-6 in singles and doubles last year in Fort Worth, Texas in her WTA Finals debut, and lost her opening doubles match with partner Jessica Pegula in doubles on Sunday, but needed only 57 minutes on court against Jabeur to secure a long-awaited first win. The match time even included a brief rain delay, where the players left the court at the start of the second set after Gauff won the first seven games. 

Gauff needed just seven minutes to win the first three games, and lost just nine points in the opening set. Though Jabeur held serve out of the rain delay to get on the board, Gauff broke her serve from a 40-15 deficit to lead 3-1 and never looked back.

 

"I played a really straightforward first set and second set," Gauff said afterwards. "After the rain delay, I was just focused on keeping my foot on the gas pedal. Ons is a great player, so I felt really unsteady the whole match even though it didn't feel like that. But I'm just happy to finally get a win here in this event.

 

"She wasn't playing her best tennis. It's sometimes tough to play an opponent when they're not playing their best because you don't know what to do. But I think for the most part on my end, I played good."

Iga Swiatek beat Marketa Vondrousova 7-6(3), 6-0 in the group's other round-robin match Monday, putting Gauff and Swiatek both 1-0 for the tournament so far. The two major-winners will next play each other, in their 10th career meeting, on Wednesday.

 

After scoring her first-ever win against Swiatek this summer at the Western & Southern Open, Gauff lost to her just over three weeks ago in the quarterfinals in Beijing. Wednesday's winner will take control of the group, and be in pole position to qualify for the semifinals.

 

"She's a tough player for anyone to play, but especially with my game," Gauff said. "I found a little bit of it in Cincinnati, and Beijing, it was tough for me. I was dealing with an injury there, so I was just trying my best to not retire in that match. Here I'm starting with a fresh start, a new mentality.

 

"I think that for me, the more I can play against her, the more I can get better. I think after each time I play her, I do learn and get better whether it's a win or a loss. So hopefully, you know, for this time, I would love to get a [win] on the head-to-head, and we could potentially play for our second time [in Sunday's final] if we both keep doing well."

 

An all-American doubles match featuring Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Desirae Krawczyk in the Maya Ka'an Group was washed out after Gauff's victory and rescheduled for Wednesday. Melichar-Martinez and her Australian partner Ellen Perez will open their WTA Finals campaign against No. 2 seeds Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens on Tuesday (Pegula will also play world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka in singles), while Krawczyk and her Dutch partner Demi Schuurs have the day off. 

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