The No.7 seed Aryna Sabalenka stunned World No.1 Iga Swiatek 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in their 2-hour and 7-minute semifinal here on Sunday.
Sabalenka prevailed in her tour-leading 28th three-set match of this season to reach her third final of the year.
At the start of the week, Sabalenka called it a “miracle” that she even qualified for the WTA Finals. But now, after a massive semifinal upset, her miracle has extended all the way into the singles final in Fort Worth.
Sabalenka will now meet No.6 seed, Caroline Garcia, for the WTA Finals singles trophy, which will break their currently deadlocked 2-2 head-to-head. With their semifinal wins, both Sabalenka and Garcia will finish the year inside the Top 5.
Former World No.2 Sabalenka won her first meeting with Swiatek a year ago at the 2021 WTA Finals, but since then, Swiatek had the upper hand in their rivalry, winning their four prior encounters this year.
However, Sabalenka came close to garnering another win in the US Open semifinals, leading Swiatek by a break in the third set before Swiatek turned that match around en route to the title.
After the win, Sabalenka said, “Overall, I was really calm on the court. The mindset was just I wanted to make her work for it. I didn’t want to give her another easy win, like she got (in the) first three wins. That’s the mindset I had during this match. I think that’s why I wasn’t really going for all those winners, all those aces, but I think because of the mindset, I made it a lot.”
Swiatek’s incredible year comes to a close with a 67-9 win-loss record, and eight singles titles. But her 15-match winning streak against her fellow Top 10 players ended with her loss to Sabalenka.
Both Swiatek and Maria Sakkari finished the round-robin portion of the event with 3-0 records, but neither made it to this week’s final. The last time a 3-0 round-robin player failed to make the final at the WTA Finals was 2015, where, just like this year, both undefeated players, Maria Sharapova and Garbiñe Muguruza, lost in the semifinals.