The Women’s Tennis Association has acknowledged that this year’s tour finals are not without flaws and has indicated plans to make changes to the way the circuit is run. This decision comes after top players voiced their concerns about how they have been treated during the tournament.
According to a letter obtained by Sports Illustrated, WTA CEO Steve Simon stated that the decision to choose Cancún, Mexico as the location for the main tournament was influenced by several complex factors.
The writer expressed understanding and acknowledgement of the players’ dissatisfaction with being in Cancún. They thanked the players for attending a meeting at the Mexican resort and recognized that the event is not ideal, taking responsibility for any challenges faced by the players.
The location for the tournament, worth $9 million (£7.3 million), was announced to be Cancún less than two months prior to the start date of October 29th. This decision came after weighing the possibility of holding the event in Saudi Arabia. The finals will feature the top eight singles players and doubles partnerships, marking the end of the season.
Aryna Sabalenka, currently ranked as the top player in the world, expressed her dissatisfaction with the WTA regarding the court conditions during the first day of the event. She also stated that she felt disrespected by the level of organization at this highly esteemed tournament.
The grievances expressed by the players have highlighted a general dissatisfaction with the management of the WTA tour. According to The Athletic, a group of 21 top players have written a letter to Simon outlining their concerns. These include a desire for increased pay, a more accommodating schedule to alleviate physical and mental strain, improved childcare options, and representation from the Professional Tennis Players Association on the WTA council.
The WTA sent a letter stating that they will discuss options to decrease the required involvement of elite players in specific tournaments at their upcoming board meeting. They also mentioned that they will address various concerns mentioned in the players’ letter.
Simon stated that significant progress is being made and there is a strong alignment between your concerns and the ongoing work. The WTA has not yet responded to the request for comment.
On the court, Jessica Pegula continued her winning streak of eight matches and secured a spot in the semi-finals by defeating Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday night. As the fifth seed, Pegula has yet to lose a set in Cancún. In her match against Sakkari, the American excelled in second serves, winning 11 out of 19 of her own and 19 of 30 second-serve returns. Sakkari only won eight out of 19.
Pegula committed fewer unforced errors than Sakkari, with 18 compared to 35, during a windy evening with intermittent rain. The 29-year-old Pegula will advance to the semi-finals on Saturday.
“It’s a great achievement to get through a 3-0 score,” she stated, “especially after last year when the outcome was the complete opposite.”
Unfortunately, Sakkari, who is ranked 9th in the world, had already been knocked out of the tournament before facing Pegula. She was unable to win a single set in any of her three matches. “I am disappointed with how my season ended,” Sakkari stated. “I believe that my constant travelling, playing, and emotional strain throughout the season took a toll on me physically and mentally.”
The match between Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, originally scheduled for Thursday, was delayed multiple times due to rain. As a result, it was not completed until Friday morning. This was a repeat of their previous match at the Australian Open, which Sabalenka had won. At the time of suspension, Sabalenka, the top-ranked player, was leading Rybakina 6-2, 3-5.
If Sabalenka, who is 25 years old, remains undefeated in the round-robin matches or reaches the final, she will maintain her position as the No. 1 player.