ZHUHAI, China — Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia battled China’s Qinwen Zheng for two hours and 51 minutes before emerging with the WTA Elite Trophy championship in Zhuhai, China.
Haddad Maia, the eighth seed, topped the seventh-seeded Zheng 7-6 (11), 7-6 (4) in the longest tour-level straight-sets match this season. Yuan Yue needed 2:49 to defeat Marie Bouzkova in the Seoul quarterfinals.
Zheng had a 9-1 advantage in aces, but also had more double faults, 6-2. Zheng saved five of eight break points against two of five for Haddad Maia, Reuters reported.
It was the first meeting between Zheng — who saw her eight-match win streak end — and Haddad Maia, who did not drop a set in the event. Zheng had won the event in Zhengzhou, two weeks ago.
Haddad Maia not only earned her third WTA Tour career singles victory, she also won the doubles title as the top seed with Veronika Kudermetova of Russia. They defeated No. 2 seeds Miyu Kato of Japan and Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 1 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, elsewhere, opened the season finale with a double-bagel victory, settling for a 6-0, 6-1 rout of No. 8 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in the round-robin opener in Mexico.
Sabalenka won 21 of 26 first-service points (81.0 per cent), saved all five break points she faced and capitalized on Sakkari’s 19 unforced errors.
Sabalenka led 6-0, 5-0 before Sakkari fended off three match points to win her first and only game.
Fifth seed Jessica Pegula defeated Kazakh fourth seed Elena Rybakina 7-5, 6-2. The American converted five of seven break-point opportunities while saving five of the seven she faced.
The tournament’s group stage split the top eight players in the world into two groups of four. After the round robin, the two players with the best records in each group will advance to a single-elimination bracket.
With a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory over No. 4 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, sixth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada repeated as champion at Swiss Indoors Basel.
Auger-Aliassime entered the week 17-18 on tour but lost only one set at the event in his first 2023 tournament final appearance.
Displaying a dominant serve, Auger-Aliassime lost just nine service points in the match and closed the first set with a backhand return that Hurkacz couldn’t handle.
Hurkacz appeared to be dealing with a left leg injury early in the second set but did not call for the trainer.
He saved all five break points — four in the second set alone — and briefly led during the second-set tiebreaker. But Auger-Aliassime rebounded to seal the victory with another big backhand return.