Iga Świątek regains world No. 1 ranking after thrashing Jessica Pegula to win WTA Finals title
Iga Świątek brushed aside Jessica Pegula to win the WTA Finals on Monday and return to the top of the world rankings.
The 22-year-old breezed to a straight-sets victory – 6-1 6-0 – needing less than an hour to beat her American opponent in a rain-delayed final in Cancún, Mexico.
The win means Świątek replaces Aryna Sabalenka as the world No. 1, having conceded the position at this year’s US Open.
“Coming back to world number one, it’s a dream come true, for sure,” Swiatek told reporters after winning her first WTA Finals title.
“I would say I wasn’t expecting that right now, this season. I was hoping that maybe next year is going to be my year, but it seems like you know, just working hard and focusing on the right things at the end worked. So I’m really happy.”
Since her last-16 defeat at the US Open, Świątek has won 12 out of the 13 matches she’s played, picking up titles at the China Open and now Cancún.
Świątek was unbeaten at the $9 million end-of-year championships – underlining her current dominance in the sport – with Pegula failing to make a dent in the Pole’s game.
“I want to thank my team who have been with me for the whole season,” Swiatek added during the trophy ceremony.
“We’ve had many ups and downs but this is for sure an up, and we’ll have many more if we keep working like that.”
Both women had not lost a set at this year’s WTA Finals, but Świątek quickly changed that dynamic in the final as the French Open champion raced out of the blocks to wrap up the first set in just 27 minutes.
The second set proved even bleaker for Pegula, with the world No. 5 failing to win a single game.
“She played really solid,” said Pegula after the final.
“I felt like she really was putting a lot of pressure on me. And I think I just was overplaying a lot today. I don’t know why.
“It just was one of those days where I felt like I was going for too much.”
The final had originally been scheduled for Sunday, but poor weather meant the match was pushed back a day.
It capped off a controversial WTA Finals, with players unhappy with the organisation of the event, run by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
There had been a number of complaints from stars during the tournament, with Sabalenka the first to voice her displeasure by saying she felt “disrespected” by the level of organization and the “unsafe” standard of the courts.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova told Amazon Prime that “maybe it’s time for new leadership” at the head of the WTA, with the organization’s chief Steve Simon coming under increasing pressure.
In an open letter to the players leaked to Sports Illustrated, Simon said the decision to select Cancún as the host venue was “based on a number of complicated factors.”
“It is clear you are not happy with the decision to be here in Cancún,” the letter read. “I understand that and you have been heard.
“It is not a perfect event, we understand the conditions are a challenge and the WTA accepts responsibility for that.”
In a statement to CNN after the tournament, the WTA said it was “founded by players aiming to unite all of women’s professional tennis into one tour, and players have always been equal decision-makers to ensure a strong direction for women’s tennis.”
It added: “The strength of the voices of the players … have helped usher in dramatic growth for the Tour and helped the WTA deliver an increase of $400 million in compensation to players over the next 10 years, maintaining the WTA’s position as the leading women’s sports organization globally.
“We’re proud of these efforts and also know there is more work to do. Changes can take time, but everything we do is a direct result of collaboration and open dialogue.
“As we’ve shared with players, the WTA is actively implementing specific improvements, and we are committed to reviewing proposals from players while maintaining a strong future for the Tour and women’s tennis.”
Although not perfect, it was a special tournament for the four-time grand slam champion Świątek.
She thanked her fans in Mexico for toughing out the stormy conditions and supporting her throughout her career.
“Thank you guys for coming and cheering for us. You really made it special. Thank you for all these Polish flags and the Polish people for coming to every tournament, but also overall from many countries,” Świątek said, addressing the fans in her victory speech.
“Every year I feel I have more support and it really keeps me pushing for more.”