- The second round of group play at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth begins November 2
- Round 1 losers from the “Nancy Richey” group play for survival; winners to try to clinch a semifinal spot
- Read on as we break down the two singles matchups, and make predictions
The format of group play at the WTA Finals pits the two players who won their opening-round matches against each other in Round 2; the two losers play each other.
Few would have expected No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur and No. 3 Jessica Pegula would be “losers”, and thus playing for survival when they meet at 6:00 pm ET November 2.
Jabeur vs Pegula Odds
| Ons Jabeur (TUN)||+1.5 (+112)||+110||O 21.5 (-125)|
| Jessica Pegula (USA)||-1.5 (-112)||-136||U 21.5 (+100)|
The winner of this match will be at 1-1, and still alive in the quest for the two available semifinal spots.
The loser will be 0-2, and will face not only a must-win match in the third and final round but will have to hope that everything else falls their way.
Jabeur Wins Last Three vs Pegula
On paper, it doesn’t set up well for Jessica Pegula, who has been beaten by Ons Jabeur in their last three meetings. Two of those came on hard courts.
The only wins the American has posted over Jabeur came in Canada. Both times, Pegula reached the tournament final.
Jabeur vs Pegula Head-to-Head
|28 (Aug. 28, 1994)||Age||28 (Feb. 24, 1994)|
|Ksar El Hellar, Tunisia||Birthplace||Buffalo, NY|
|3||Career WTA Singles Titles||2|
|No. 2 (June 27, 2022)||Career-Best Ranking||No. 3 (Oct. 24, 2022)|
|No. 2||Current Ranking||No. 3|
|$8,964,743||Career Prize Money||$6,280,356|
|46-16||2022 Won/Loss Record||42-19|
If there is hope for Pegula, it is that she has been playing the best tennis of her career since they last met, in Madrid in May.
But that may well be thin soup.
Jabeur vs Pegula Match History
|2022||Madrid (F)||Outdoor Clay||7-5, 0-6, 6-2||Jabeur|
|2022||Dubai (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-3, 6-1||Jabeur|
|2021||Chicago 500 (R16)||Outdoor Hard||1-6, 6-2, 6-3||Jabeur|
|2021||Montreal (QF)||Outdoor Hard||1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0||Pegula|
|2018||Quebec City (R16)||Indoor Carpet||7-6 (3), 6-4||Pegula|
It may well prove to be that the double-up scheduling in both singles and doubles, and the accumulation of pressure, are Pegula’s undoing in her first-ever qualification for the WTA Finals.
She rarely looks as tense on the court as she did Monday against Maria Sakkari.
Though shy of matches, Jabeur had patches of very good play against Sabalenka. And she won’t be facing the same explosive power when she takes on the American.
Jabeur vs Pegula Prediction
The odds for this one were dead even last night. Overnight, Pegula has become a slight favorite.
But we’re looking at Jabeur as the favorite because of the head-to-head, Pegula’s tougher schedule and the “home-field advantage” factor that might well be a disadvantage.
Best Bet: Jabeur in Two Sets (+235)
Sakkari vs Sabalenka Odds
| Maria Sakkari (GRE)||+1.5 (-110)||+112||O 21.5 (-117)|
| Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)||-1.5 (-114)||-137||U 21.5 (-108)|
The Sakkari vs Sabalenka matchup is another in which the Belarussian Sabalenka has a fairly clear recent head-to-head advantage.
But the two did not meet in all of 2022, which was a struggle of a season for both.
Sakkari vs Sabalenka Head-to-Head
|27 (July 25, 1995)||Age||24 (May 5, 1998)|
|Athens, Greece||Birthplace||Minsk, Belarus|
|1||Career WTA Singles Titles||10|
|No. 3 (March 21, 2022)||Career-Best Ranking||No. 2 (Aug. 23, 2021)|
|No. 5||Current Ranking||No. 7|
|$7,582,028||Career Prize Money||$11,424,910|
|38-22||2022 Won/Loss Record||31-20|
Sabalenka’s Power the Edge
As much as Sabalenka’s serve has let her down this year, she served well when it counted in her Monday match vs Ons Jabeur.
The Tunisian out-aced her, 7-1 (and Sabalenka had six double faults). And she won just 25 percent of points on Jabeur’s first serve. But somehow all that wasn’t really a factor in the end.
Sakkari vs Sabalenka Match History
|2021||WTA Finals (RR)||Outdoor Hard||7-6 (1), 6-7 (6), 6-3||Sakkari|
|2021||Abu Dhabi (SF)||Outdoor Hard||6-3, 6-2||Sabalenka|
|2020||Doha (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-3, 6-0||Sabalenka|
|2020||Dubai (R32)||Outdoor Hard||6-2, 4-6, 6-1||Sabalenka|
|2019||Zhuhai Finals (RR)||Indoor Hard||6-3, 6-4||Sabalenka|
|2019||Cincinnati (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4||Sakkari|
Sabalenka was emotional after that victory, which might have cemented the notion that no matter how much she’s struggling and not playing her best tennis, she can still win.
It could give her wings. But Sakkari, too, could get on a roll after avenging her terse defeat in the finals of the Guadalajara Open to Jessica Pegula just 10 days ago, with a win over the American Monday.
Sakkari vs Sabalenka Prediction
Sabalenka has had far too many three-set matches this season, many of her own doing.
But getting through one Monday will give her confidence she can do it again, if necessary.
She is the strong favorite to win this group now.
Best Bet: Over 23.5 Games (+135)