Coco Gauff began her WTA Finals campaign in impressive fashion on Monday in Cancún, Mexico, easily defeating the No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur with a score of 6-0, 6-1.
In only 57 minutes, the 19-year-old secured a win against her opponent from Tunisia. As the third seed and a native of Florida, she is the first teenager to win a singles match at the end-of-season finals since Caroline Wozniacki did so 14 years ago. Gauff, who competed in the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas last year, lost all three of her singles matches.
Gauff is seeking to end the season on a high note following her victory at the US Open, where she earned her first grand slam title. While Jabeur made it to the Wimbledon final earlier this year, she has yet to win a major championship despite making it to three finals.
Both players in the Chetumal Group played their first match on Monday. The second-seeded Iga Swiatek from Poland defeated the seventh-seeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova 7-6 (3), 6-0.
Eight players are divided into two groups for the initial phase of the tournament, where they will participate in round robin matches. The top two players from each group will move on to the semi-finals on Saturday, and the winners from Saturday’s matches will face off in the championship match on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Gauff and Swiatek, leaders of The Chetumal Group, will compete against each other.
Gauff successfully defended against all three break points from Jabeur, which were all in the final set. She also took advantage of five out of eight break opportunities.
Gauff acknowledged that Ons is a skilled player and her presence made her feel anxious throughout the match, despite appearances. However, she expressed joy at finally achieving a victory in this event. She also noted the potential for a match to shift completely after a rain delay, but she was able to maintain her composure and consistency throughout.
“I received a marriage proposal yesterday, so I am feeling loved here in Cancún. Honestly, I did not anticipate such great support today. I am grateful for all of you and hopefully, we can attract even more people as the week goes on.”
In the first set, Swiatek was able to come back from being down 5-2 and defeat Vondrousova. She won four games in a row to tie the score, and then dominated the tiebreaker, winning the last four points after being tied at 3-3.
Swiatek stated that she did not feel like she was playing poorly in the beginning of the match. She believed that her mistakes were mainly happening during the final shots of the rally. Although she knew she could improve, she did not feel the need to make significant changes. Instead, she aimed to be more accurate and consistent, rather than taking risky shots.
In the second set, Vondrousova’s performance deteriorated, only managing to hit one winner while making 13 unforced errors. Vondrousova commented, “I had a lead of 5-2, but then she started playing better. She didn’t give me many opportunities afterwards. In the second set, she played incredibly well and I didn’t have much to do.”
The Bacalar Group is set to resume play on Tuesday. In a highly anticipated match, number one seed Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus will face off against fifth seed Jessica Pegula from the US, both of whom won their first matches. Meanwhile, fourth seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan and eighth seed Maria Sakkari from Greece will compete against each other after both losing their opening games.