Aryna Sabalenka leads players ‘not happy’ with facilities at WTA Finals in Cancun
Top seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek have lead the backlash of the facilities at the WTA Finals tournament in Cancun, with the Centre Court not being ready for practice until the eve of the tournament.
Cancun was awarded the WTA Finals back in September, with Mexico hosting the year-end tournament for the second time in three years.
World No.1 Sabalenka had already implied that she was not impressed, after reposting her coaches Instagram story saying there were only two practice courts until yesterday and only one stringer on sight.
And the Belarusian has doubled down on this when speaking to press, “I’m not happy that we couldn’t practice on the matchcourt, meaning like on the stadium.”
She continued, “I think this is not the level for the WTA Finals. We literally have one hour today [Saturday], like 45 minutes, to try the stadium. This is something I’m not happy with. I’m pretty sure the rest of the players are also not happy.
“At the same time, yes, I know we’re all in the same conditions. But this is not conditions for the WTA Finals. So it’s not great. I mean, usually we need like three to four days to kind of like adjust to conditions. But we’ll see. I guess it is how it is. But I hope that next year WTA will do better job.”
Our Player Relations team is in Cancun for the WTA Finals. pic.twitter.com/a24f301QEh
— Professional Tennis Players Association (@ptpaplayers) October 27, 2023
Current Indian Wells champion and 2022 Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina also spoke about her ‘disappointment’ for the last minute preparation of one of the biggest WTA events of the year.
“It surprised me that we didn’t get a chance yet to practice. I think that’s the only day now. I’m going to get the first hit in the evening,” said the Kazakhstani. “Tomorrow I have to play the match, so this is a bit disappointing.
“But it is what it is. I guess we’re going to try to do our best to show good tennis, which is not going to be that easy with such windy conditions. But overall, I mean, Mexico is really nice. Yeah, I think we just try to do our best here.”
WTA Finals debutant Marketa Vondrousova had actually joked that the singles players would have to help build the stadium themselves, in another Instagram post.
Despite being dubbed the Tunisian ‘Minister of Happiness’, Ons Jabeur is also ‘not very happy’ and claims that this should ‘never happen ever again’, despite praising the construction team for their late efforts.
“I mean, obviously as a player, I wish the stadium was ready couple of days before in order to have a better preparation and everything,” said the two-time Wimbledon finalist. “I don’t want to take the effort that the construction team had done for the past six weeks, I guess. I know they done a lot of hard work. I want to thank them for that.
“I’m not very happy that this is the first day we hit on the stadium. This is such a big event. We should have been able to be ready and hit on the court. Hopefully this will never, ever, ever happen again. Like ever.”
Second seed Swiatek has echoed these sentiments, but has turned her focus to the tournament ahead, as she aims to win her first WTA Finals title to regain the No.1 ranking from the aforementioned Sabalenka.
“Today I had the chance to practice on the centre court for like 45 minutes for the first time. It’s a little bit different than the practice courts,” explained the Pole. “I guess to perform well here, you just have to kind of not care of everything that is going on around, just really focus on playing the best tennis possible.”
Court ready. Players ready.
— wta (@WTA) October 28, 2023
The WTA Finals in Cancun get underway later today, with Sabalenka taking on late entry Maria Sakkari and Rybakina going head-to-head with Canadian Open champion Jessica Pegula.
Inside the baseline…
It would be no understatement to say that the preparation for the WTA Finals has once again been chaotic, and this sentiment has been reflected in the comments from the players. The WTA should learn from this and announce the host location for the 2024 tournament as soon as possible.
Read >> World’s best tennis magazine