Prior to the WTA Finals, WTA No. 15 Liudmila Samsonova said that clearly, the best player in women’s tennis was Iga Swiatek. Samsonova said this even though Aryna Sabalenka is ranked No. 1 currently and has been for a number of weeks now. Sabalenka has a powerful forehand and an excellent serve, but she still might not be the player Iga Swiatek is, at least based on what we have seen from the WTA Finals so far.
While Sabalenka complained about the quality of the tennis courts and how it took so long for the WTA to decide where to play the WTA Finals this year, Swiatek distanced herself from most other players. For instance, while everyone else wore white to the pre-tournament photo shoot, Swiatek wore red. Maybe the decision about what to wear was something Swiatek didn’t think much about, but the stark difference in appearance would imply otherwise.
On Tuesday night, Iga Swiatek seemed to want to make a statement against upstart Coco Gauff as well. Gauff won the US Open and has moved up to No. 3 in the WTA rankings. But while Gauff has been playing much better since July, she was squashed by Swiatek from the start of the match.
Iga Swiatek squashes Coco Gauff and the WTA has problems
The Pole blanked the American in the first set by smashing forehand winners. Swiatek’s pace and placement just seemed too much for Gauff. Sure, the conditions on the court weren’t great as it was really windy, but this appeared to only bother Gauff at first and not Swiatek.
In the second set, Gauff tried to make a comeback and actually had a 4-2 lead, but Iga Swiatek took advantage of more unforced errors by Gauff to win the next four games and close the match out 6-0 6-4. It was an impressive display of tennis by the WTA No. 2 who has a decent chance of overtaking Sabalenka for No. 1 by the end of the tournament. Sabalenka has already lost once while Swiatek has lost just 10 games in four sets.
But some players think the WTA is broken. According to a recent report by the Athletic (subscription required), a recent list of requests by most of the top 20 players, among others, was sent to WTA leadership to request changes be made in regards to scheduling, equal pay, qualification for tournament rules, and player representation. The WTA seemed to discount the requests as nothing appears on the verge of changing.
The main issue is pay, of course. The WTA needs to do more to pressure tournaments to have equal pay for the men’s and women’s champions. The media rights fees for women’s tennis are about one-seventh of what the men’s side gets. This is unfair, but the players can’t do anything about it on their own unless they simply choose not to play certain tournaments which means they don’t get paid anything.
Let’s just hope the WTA starts acting on behalf of the players. Because right now the only thing the WTA seems to care about is making money for their own leadership group.