CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Aryna Sabalenka’s bid to clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking was put on hold Thursday night when her WTA Finals round-robin match against Elena Rybakina was suspended in the second set because of rain.
With the winner headed to the semifinals at the season-ending championship and the loser eliminated, Sabalenka took the opening set 6-1. Rybakina was about to serve for the second while ahead 5-3 when the latest in a series of showers interrupted play after 11:30 p.m. local time. After waiting to see whether the weather would clear up, organizers decided to call things off and push back the resumption until Friday afternoon.
There were a half-dozen rain delays that halted action for around two hours in total — and one spectator held up a sign reading, “No more rain!!!” The longest break lasted 1 hour, 10 minutes early in the second set.
Sabalenka vs. Rybakina was a rematch of this year’s Australian Open final. Sabalenka won that matchup in January for her first Grand Slam title.
Earlier Thursday, Jessica Pegula finished her round-robin singles play with a 3-0 record a year after going 0-3. She headed to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Maria Sakkari.
Pegula already had clinched first place in the four-player group by virtue of earlier straight-set victories against Sabalenka and Rybakina on the outdoor hard court built for the event.
The fifth-seeded Pegula extended her overall winning streak to eight matches, including a title at the Korean Open last month.
The 29-year-old American has won all six sets she’s played in Cancun so far.
“Getting through 3-0 is really kind of a cool accomplishment,” Pegula said, “especially coming off of last year, where it was the opposite.”
Sakkari, who is ranked No. 9 but got into the eight-player field when No. 8 Karolina Muchova withdrew with an injured right wrist, went 0-3 and dropped every set.
“That’s not the way I wanted my season to end,” Sakkari said. “I think that physically and mentally, I was paying a toll for how much I traveled and how much I played and how emotional this season was.”
Pegula had fewer winners than Sakkari, 12-7, but also made roughly half as many unforced errors, 35-18, on a windy evening. Pegula’s doubles match with partner Coco Gauff was postponed because of the rain.
The two semifinalists from the other singles group will be settled Friday, when U.S. Open champion Gauff takes on Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, and four-time major champ Iga Swiatek meets three-time Slam runner-up Ons Jabeur.
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis