Coco Gauff, Desirae Krawczyk and Jessica Pegula learn draws at 2022 WTA Finals
The three American women set to compete at next week's season-ending WTA Finals—Coco Gauff, Desirae Krawczyk and Jessica Pegula—learned Friday who they'll face in the round-robin stage of the year-end championships.
Each making her debut at the event, Gauff and Pegula are the only players to rank among the elite eight in both singles and doubles at the WTA Finals this year, while Krawczyk has qualified for the second year running.
The two singles players and doubles teams to top each of four total round-robin groups, all named for WTA legends, will advance to the semifinals, and will have the opportunity to compete for the Billie Jean King Trophy and the Martina Navratilova trophy, respectively.
Third-seeded Pegula was drawn into the Nancy Richey Group with No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur, No. 5 seed Maria Sakkari and No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka. Fourth-seeded Gauff was placed in the other group, named for Tracy Austin, alongside world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, No. 6 seed Caroline Garcia and No. 8 seed Daria Kasatkina.
In doubles, Gauff and Pegula are seeded third. While they won't play in a singles round-robin match, the American pair will face Krawczyk in their doubles group; Gauff and Pegula were drawn with No. 1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, No. 6 seeds Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan, and No. 8 seeds Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs in the pool named for Rosie Casals.
The youngest competitor at the WTA Finals since 2005, Gauff has an opportunity for revenge against two players who had high-profile wins against her this year: She was runner-up to Swiatek at Roland Garros, while Garcia beat her in the US Open quarterfinals.
Gauff hasn't beaten Swiatek in four tries, three of which have been played this year; in fact, she's only won 20 games in eight sets against her, and lost their last meeting 6-0, 6-3 in San Diego just two weeks ago. None of that has daunted the teenager, though, as she prepares for her debut at the year-end championships.
"It's going to be a tough match. Obviously, I haven't beaten her yet. It's an opportunity just to try again and hopefully see what I can do," Gauff told reporters in her pre-event press conference on Saturday. "I definitely learned a lot from that match in San Diego. Learned not just from playing against her, but playing against other players in general. Hopefully, I can come back and there change the scoreline a little bit."
Looking ahead to Gauff's outlook on the rest of her group, she had beaten Garcia in their two prior meetings before the Frenchwoman triumphed 6-3, 6-4 in New York; she's also 0-2 against Kasatkina, but they haven't played on hard courts in three years.
"No matches are going to be easy here," Gauff continued. "I think I'm just going to have a lot of fun regardless of how it goes. Obviously, I want to win, but I'm just going to focus on enjoying this. This is my first time playing this tournament. Hopefully, I'll be here many more WTA Finals in the future, but I'm just going to enjoy the first one."
Arriving in Forth Worth at a career-high ranking of No. 3, Pegula has a losing record against all three players in her pool, but the top-ranked American is seeking to parlay her recent win at the WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara to a similarly deep run in Fort Worth.
Her first hurdle is a second meeting with Sakkari in just eight days; Pegula beat Greece's top player with ease to win in Mexico, and also beat her in January at the Australian Open, but Sakkari's won their other three meetings all-time.
"I think maybe some people are like, 'Oh, well, she just beat her in Guadalajara.' Maybe the thought process is, 'Oh, it should be an easy matchup,'" Pegula said Saturday. "But I think at the same time it's almost harder because obviously she's going to go back and try to change things.
"The courts are totally different. The surface is different. The balls are different. Not at altitude. There's a lot of dynamic that changes with that, and I'm going to try and stick to my game plan to what I thought worked well in Guadalajara, but that might have to change a little bit with the conditions.
"It's weird playing each other so close together in such a short time span. Especially coming into here in such a big event. But I think we'll always think of it as, again, it's another week. I think we're used to doing that and we're used to playing a lot of each other, some of it back to back, week to week. I think I'll just look at it as just another match and try to do what I did well in Guadalajara."
Pegula's also lost three of her five career meetings against Jabeur, including two this year, and has lost her last three matches against Sabalenka. Notably, though, Pegula and Jabeur haven't played since the American cracked the Top 10 for the first time after Roland Garros; Jabeur was a 6-3, 6-1 winner in the quarterfinals in Dubai in February, and a 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 winner in the final in Madrid in May.
In addition, all three of Sabalenka's wins against Pegula came on clay; Pegula's only victory came on hard courts two years ago, in a three-setter at the Western & Southern Open that was relocated to Flushing Meadows as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Krawczyk fell in the group stage of the WTA Finals last year with her then-partner, Chile's Alexa Guarachi. This year, she and Schuurs won Stuttgart and were runners-up in Madrid—and the 28-year-old Californian hit a career-high doubles ranking of No. 10 in July.
Gauff and Pegula are each seeking to be the first American to win the singles title at the WTA Finals since Serena Williams won the last of her five career year-end titles in 2014; an American hasn't won the doubles title since the all-American team of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond triumphed in 2011.
Pegula and Sakkari will play the second of four matches scheduled on Monday's opening day at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. In doubles, Krawczyk and Schuurs open the day's slate againt Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champions Krejcikova and Siniakova, while Gauff and Pegula will close out the order of play in doubles against Xu and Yang.