Salem Radio Network News Sunday, November 27, 2022

Sports

Swiatek, Jabeur, Pegula, Gauff headline WTA Finals field

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A look at the eight women who are in the singles field for the season-ending WTA Finals, which begin Monday:

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IGA SWIATEK

Ranked: 1

Country: Poland

Age: 21

2022 Record: 64-8

2022 Titles: 8

Career Titles: 11

Grand Slam Titles: 3 — French Open (2: 2020, 2022), U.S. Open (1: 2022)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: 2021

Best WTA Finals Showing: Eliminated in group stage

Aces: First woman since Serena Williams in 2013 with at least eight titles in a season; first since Angelique Kerber in 2016 with two Grand Slam trophies in a year. … 37-match winning streak from February to July was longest in women’s tennis since 1997. … Took over at No. 1 in April, following Ash Barty’s retirement. … Will sit out Billie Jean King Cup because it comes immediately after the WTA Finals.

She Said It: “This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.” — Swiatek, on the scheduling of the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Scotland to begin the day after the WTA Finals end.

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ONS JABEUR

Ranked: 2

Country: Tunisia

Age: 28

2022 Record: 46-15

2022 Titles: 2

Career Titles: 3

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Runner-Up, Wimbledon (2022), U.S. Open (2022)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: Debut

Aces: Rebounded from surprising first-round French Open loss between reaching first two major finals at Wimbledon, U.S. Open. … First woman since Williams in 2019 to get to the title matches at the All England Club and Flushing Meadows. … First woman from North Africa and first Arab woman to reach Grand Slam final.

She Said It: “Definitely, I’m not someone that’s going to give up. I am sure I’m going to be in the final again.” — Jabeur, after falling to 0-2 in Grand Slam finals by losing to Swiatek at the U.S. Open in September.

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JESSICA PEGULA

Ranked: 3

Country: United States

Age: 28

2022 Record: 42-18

2022 Titles: 1

Career Titles: 2

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Quarterfinals, Australian Open (2021, 2022), French Open (2022), U.S. Open (2022)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: Debut

Aces: The native New Yorker recently joined Coco Gauff in becoming first two American women to both be ranked in the WTA’s top four spots since 2010, when Serena and Venus Williams did it. … Coming off first WTA 1000 title, beating four past Grand Slam champions in Guadalajara, Mexico. … Breakthrough season included three Slam quarterfinals before a loss to the No. 1 seed and eventual champion: Barty at Australian Open; Swiatek at French Open and U.S. Open.

She Said It: “I’m definitely a very ambitious person. A little bit of a perfectionist, as well.” — Pegula, after her triumph in Mexico.

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COCO GAUFF

Ranked: 4

Country: United States

Age: 18

2022 Record: 38-19

2022 Titles: Zero

Career Titles: 2

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Runner-up, French Open (2022)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: Debut

Aces: First player at WTA Finals before age 19 since Maria Sharapova in 2005; first U.S. woman to do so since Lindsay Davenport in 1994. … Floridian reached first Grand Slam singles final at French Open; also was doubles runner-up, alongside Pegula. … In August, Gauff became second-youngest player to reach No. 1 in the WTA doubles rankings. … She and Pegula qualified for WTA Finals doubles.

She Said It: “Definitely, it’s going to be hard mentally.” — Gauff, looking ahead to her first trip to the tour’s season-ending tournament.

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MARIA SAKKARI

Ranked: 5

Country: Greece

Age: 27

2022 Record: 37-22

2022 Titles: Zero

Career Titles: 1

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Semifinals, French Open (2021), U.S. Open (2021)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: 2021

Best WTA Finals Showing: Semifinals

Aces: Only player at WTA Finals with winning head-to-head career record against Swiatek (3-2). … Victory over defending champion Swiatek at 2021 French Open put Sakkari in the semifinals of a major for first time. … Saved 63.1% of break points she faced in 2022, third-best on tour.

She Said It: “I was struggling a lot. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed. And now … I’m going on the court every day with a smile on my face.” — Sakkari, at the U.S. Open, discussing a down period this summer.

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CAROLINE GARCIA

Ranked: 6

Country: France

Age: 29

2022 Record: 41-19

2022 Titles: 3

Career Titles: 10

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Semifinals, U.S. Open (2022)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: 2017

Best WTA Finals Showing: Semifinals

Aces: Did not drop a set en route to first Slam semifinal, before 13-match winning streak ended with a loss to Jabeur. … Got to a career-best ranking of No. 4 in 2018, but slid after that, finishing last season at No. 74. … Ranks second on tour this season in aces with 369 (Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has 370) and percentage of service games won at 80.6% (Liudmila Samsonova leads with 81%). … Won French Open doubles trophies with Kristina Mladenovic in 2016 and 2022.

She Said It: “I know where I was standing a few months back, a few years back. So let’s take the positive.” — Garcia, after her loss to Jabeur in New York.

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ARYNA SABALENKA

Ranked: 7

Country: Belarus

Age: 24

2022 Record: 30-20

2022 Titles: Zero

Career Titles: 10

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Semifinals, Wimbledon (2021), U.S. Open (2021, 2022)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: 2021

Best WTA Finals Showing: Eliminated in group stage

Aces: A year after reaching first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon, unable to compete there this summer when players from her country, Belarus, and from Russia were banned by the All England Club because of the invasion of Ukraine. … Ninth in aces this year, with 227, but also accumulated more than 100 more double-faults than anyone else on tour, with 398, an average of just about eight per match. … Won two Grand Slam doubles titles with Elise Mertens, at 2019 U.S. Open and 2021 Australian Open.

She Said It: “It was a tough time, especially when I was working out in the gym and there was Wimbledon playing on the TV. I was always (turning) it off, because I couldn’t watch.” — Sabalenka, who spent time training in Miami during the season’s third major tournament.

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DARIA KASATKINA

Ranked: 8

Country: Russia

Age: 25

2022 Record: 40-20

2022 Titles: 2

Career Titles: 6

Grand Slam Titles: None — Best: Semifinals, French Open (2022)

Past WTA Finals Appearances: Debut

Aces: Calls clay her favorite surface — won the 2014 French Open junior title and reached first major semifinal at Roland Garros this year — but both of her titles this season came on hard courts. … That run in Paris ended a four-year drought without a Slam quarterfinal appearance.

She Said It: “Mentally and physically I feel the best I ever was, which is good, because it means that I’m improving.” — Kasatkina, at the French Open.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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