World No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka has criticized the Women’s Tennis Federation over the organization of its season-ending finals in Mexico.
Sabalenka, 25, defeated Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-0 6-1 in her opening match on Sunday but said she felt “disrespected” by the sport’s governing body.
“I am very disappointed with the WTA and the experiences so far at the WTA Finals,” said the Belarusian.
“This is not the level of organization we expect for the final.”
The venue for the finals was just Confirmed at the beginning of September after talks between the WTA and Saudi Arabia failed to reach an agreement for 2023.
Construction of the course in the Mexican resort of Cancun was only completed in the days before the tournament started on Sunday.
Most players supported hosting the tournament in Saudi Arabia, but there was criticism from players such as Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert that the WTA would potentially go to a country where women are discriminated against.
Although Sabalenka dominated against Sakkari, converting five of her nine break point chances and winning 11 straight games to clinch victory in an hour and 14 minutes, she said the conditions were far from ideal.
“To be honest, I often don’t feel safe when I’m on this court,” Sabalenka said.
“The jump is not consistent at all and we were only able to train on this pitch for the first time yesterday. That’s just not acceptable to me because there’s so much at stake and so much at stake.”
“As I said in my press conference this evening, as a player I feel really disrespected by the WTA. I think most of us do.”
Sabalenka took over the top spot from Poland’s Iga Swiatek after the US Open in September and will be number one at the end of the year if she remains undefeated in round-robin play or reaches the final.
At the start of Group A, American Jessica Pegula defeated Elena Rybakina 7-5, 6-2.
Pegula, 29, won 10 of the last 12 games against her Kazakh rival, who was serving 5-3 in the first set but made 35 unforced errors in the match.
Sabalenka’s next game is against Rybakina on Tuesday, with Pegula set to face Sakkari.
In Monday’s Group B matches, Swiatek will face Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, while US Open champion Coco Gauff will face Ons Jabeur.