27 November 2022
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Spain’s Paula Badosa fired 10 aces in a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 round-robin victory over Maria Sakkari Saturday and secured a semi-final spot at the season-ending WTA Finals.

With one round-robin match remaining, Badosa was assured of top spot in her group when top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defeated Iga Swiatek 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Poland’s Swiatek was eliminated from semi-final contention, and Monday’s match between Sabalenka and Sakkari will determine the second semi-finalist from the group.

Badosa, whose late season run of form included her biggest title to date at the pandemic-delayed hardcourt tournament in Indian Wells in October, had already posted a convincing victory over Sabalenka to open group play.

Saturday’s clash between Badosa and Sakkari, the first Greek to qualify for the finals, was the first meeting between the two.

Badosa needed just over two hours to stretch her current WTA winning streak to eight matches. After eking out the first-set tiebreaker, she grabbed an early break on the way to a 3-1 lead in the second set.

Unable to capitalize on a string of break chances in the fifth game, Badosa was broken herself as Sakkari knotted the set at 4-4. Badosa responded immediately with a break for 5-4 and a chance to serve out the match, sealing it with…

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Abdul Gh Lone