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PREVIEW: 2023 WTA Tour – WTA Finals – Chetumal Group 2nd Matches

Damien Kayat previews Iga Swiatek vs Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur vs Marketa Vondrousova in 2nd matches (Chetumal Group) of the WTA Finals on the 2nd of November 2023.

Coco Gauff of the USA i

Damien Kayat previews Iga Swiatek vs Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur vs Marketa Vondrousova in 2nd matches (Chetumal Group) of the WTA Finals on the 2nd of November 2023.

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2023 WTA Tour
WTA Finals
Plaza Quintana Roo, Cancun, Mexico (Outdoor Hardcourt)
Chetumal Group- 2nd Matches – 2nd November

Iga Swiatek 46/100 | Coco Gauff 33/20

I think Iga Swiatek has come in for some ridiculous criticism this season, with some commentators reading the last rites on her recent spell of tennis dominance. It’s always going to be an unenviable task to follow up a season where you managed a 37-match winning streak.

The Pole has still managed to win five titles this year! This included adding to her Grand Slam tally with a 3rd Roland Garros crown. Her commanding opening win against Marketa Vondrousova took her season tally to a brilliant 64-11.

Sure, she has momentarily surrendered her World No.1 ranking to Aryna Sabalenka. But she held that title for 75 consecutive weeks and you could tell that the pressure of that moniker started to weigh heavily on her. She occasionally lapsed into predictable patterns of play as she essentially protected that number one ranking. Losing the top ranking could be exactly what the Pole needed to reinvigorate her game.

She looked awesome in Beijing, dropping just one set in six matches to secure her first WTA 1000 title since last year’s Italian Open. Her victory over Vondrousova meant she has only dropped one set in her last seven matches and she will be looking to make it eight consecutive wins when she meets American starlet Coco Gauff.

Coco Gauff’s 2023 season has really been a remarkable coming of age narrative. Everyone knew that the 19-year-old had the talent to rise to the top of the game (that much was apparent when she took Wimbledon by storm as a 15-year-old in 2019).

But last year’s tame French Open final defeat to Swiatek left a bad taste in the mouth and many started to wonder if she might lack the BMT to make it to the very top. She took some bold decisions this year, firing coach Diego Monyana and hiring Brad Gilbert as a coaching consultant.

And it paid huge dividends. She has gone 23-2 since the commencement of the Washington Open, winning her maiden WTA 500, WTA 1000 and Grand Slam crowns in the process. She has made that forehand far more formidable and she almost seems to live for the do-or-die moments in matches. She just eviscerated a visibly out of sorts Ons Jabeur, recording her maiden WTA Finals singles win after going 0-3 in last year’s season-ending showpiece.

Gauff is feeling the love in Cancun after accepting a recent marriage proposal and claiming this title will be the perfect denouement to a brilliant year. Incidentally, this is also her first tournament since splitting from yet another coach: Pere Riba. Gauff really seems to becoming the master of her own destiny.

Verdict: Swiatek to win in straight-sets at 21/20

The Pole has absolutely dominated this rivalry, leading the American by a stunning 8-1 in their head-to-head record. In fact, all eight of those wins were achieved in straight-sets (including when they met in Beijing a few weeks back).

Gauff did pick up a morale-boosting win in Cincinnati but I still think Swiatek’s game is perfectly suited to outdueling the American. She is one of the few who can match Gauff’s athleticism and her sheer weight of shot still outdoes that of Gauff.

Also, Swiatek knows that victory in this season-ending event will see her close out the year as World No.1 (making some tennis scribes look rather silly in the process).

Ons Jabeur 12/10 | Marketa Vondrousova 13/20

Arguably the most beloved player on the women’s circuit, Ons Jabeur made a pretty disastrous start to her 2nd WTA Finals appearance. She looked 2nd best in every department against Gauff, labouring around the court and committing a slew of unforced errors.

I don’t personally think that Jabeur has properly recovered from the mental anguish of that Wimbledon final defeat. Sure, she has lost two Grand Slam finals before. But I think she felt like destiny was on her side this year, as she lined up to play a certain unseeded statuesque Czech player on those hallowed lawns.

Vondrousova outfoxed her in straight-sets and Jabeur hasn’t really looked herself since then. She won an extremely understrength Ningbo Open but she has really failed to make an impression in any of her other events. Her litany of injury concerns have also wreaked havoc for the Tunisian and she is going to struggle to gain any traction in Cancun.

7th seed Marketa Vondrousova must be one of the encouraging success stories of the season. The craft Czech lefty has enjoyed some terrible luck with injury at some of the most important junctures of her career.

She reached her maiden Grand Slam final at the 2019 French Open but would have to end that season prematurely due to wrist surgery. She was also forced to bring last season to an early conclusion. She started this campaign well enough (with back-to-back round of 16 finishes at the ‘Sunshine Double’ offering us a glimpse of her potential).

But few could have envisaged that she would become the first unseeded player to win Wimbledon in the Open Era. Her use of drop-shots and slice offers a wonderful counterpart to the baseline slugfests that dominate the modern game.

She backed that up with quarterfinal runs in Cincinnati and Flushing Meadows (though her form petered out a bit in the lead-up to this event). She was always going to struggle against Swiatek;s power but I think Jabeur- in her current form- is the ideal opponent for the Czech.

Verdict: Vondrousova to win in straight-sets at 14/10

The Czech owns a narrow 4-3 advantage in the head-to-head stakes. But that only tells half the story. Vondrousova has won all three of their matches this year (including wins at two Grand Slams). Jabeur is not at her physical peak and Vondrousova’s flagrant use of drop-shots and off-speed shots will prove a nightmare for Jabeur.

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