Coco Gauff got off to a dominating start at the WTA Finals on Monday in Cancún, Mexico, routing the No 6 seed Ons Jabeur 6-0, 6-1.
The 19-year-old needed just 57 minutes to seal the victory over her Tunisian opponent. The third-seeded Florida native became the first teenager to win a singles match at the season-ending finals since Caroline Wozniacki 14 years ago. Last year, Gauff lost all three of her singles matches in the WTA Finals at Fort Worth, Texas.
Gauff is looking for a strong finish to the season after capturing her first career grand slam title at the US Open. Jabeur got to the Wimbledon final this year, but she remains without a major championship despite reaching three finals.
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The match was the opener for both players in the Chetumal Group. The other two players in the group also played their opener on Monday, as second-seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland got past seventh-seeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova 7-6 (3), 6-0.
Two groups of four players are competing in separate round robins in the tournament’s opening phase. The two top players in each group advance to the semi-finals on Saturday, with the Saturday winners competing for the championship on Sunday.
The Chetumal Group co-leaders will face off on Wednesday when Gauff takes on Swiatek.
Gauff saved all three break points she faced against Jabeur – all of which came in the final set – while also converting five of her eight break opportunities.
“Ons is a great player, so I felt really unsteady the whole match even though it didn’t [look] like that,” Gauff said. “But I’m just happy to finally get a win here in this event. Sometimes you win a couple games and the rain delay happens and the match can completely turn around. But I was able to stay steady the whole time.
“I got a marriage proposal yesterday so I’m feeling the love here in Cancún. I honestly wasn’t expecting as much support today … I appreciate you guys and hopefully we can get a lot more people to come as the week continues.”
Earlier, Swiatek recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the first set to storm past Vondrousova. The Polish player won four consecutive games to get back on serve, then pulled away from a 3-3 score in the tiebreaker, taking the last four points.
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“Honestly, even in the first part of the match I wasn’t feeling like I was playing bad,” Swiatek said. “I just felt like I was making mistakes on the last shots within the rally. I felt that there was, for sure, room for improvement, but I didn’t need to change a lot. So I just wanted to be more precise and more solid … not play risky.”
Iga Swiątek of Poland in action against Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic on day two of the WTA Finals. Photograph: Robert Prange/Getty Images
Vondrousova fell apart in the second set, producing just one winner and 13 unforced errors. “I was 5-2 up and she started to play better,” Vondrousova said. “She didn’t give me much of a chance after. The second set, she was playing really amazing – there was nothing much to do.”
The Bacalar Group will return to action on Tuesday. Top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will oppose fifth-seeded Jessica Pegula of the US in a matchup of players who won their first match, while fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan and eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece will square off in a match-up of players who dropped their opener.