The Belarusian star completely destroyed Maria Sakkari to kick off her quest to retain the No. 1 ranking and win the prestigious WTA Finals crown. She won 6-0, 6-1, in just 74 minutes, sending a real statement of intent to the rest of the field.
But the victory also had a significant meaning to it aside from giving her an early cushion in the Bacalar Group. A single round-robin win at the season finale is equivalent to $198,000 in prize money.
Players are also entitled to a participation fee of the same amount. Before the tournament, Sabalenka's career earnings stood at $19,729,563.
Following her comprehensive win on Monday under the lights, she has taken her career earnings past the $20 million mark ($20,125,563). Simultaneously, Sabalenka became just the second woman born in 1998 or later to reach that milestone, after Iga Swiatek.
Sabalenka moves a spot above Australia's Samantha Stosur and into 23rd in the all-time career prize money leaderboard. She is hunting down Justine Henin, Naomi Osaka, and Swiatek in order to break the Top 20. She'll most likely need to win the tournament this week to do so.
An undefeated champion at the WTA Finals will pocket $3,024,000. At the same time, winning the final alone guarantees a player a paycheck worth $1,476,000. For Sabalenka, winning the tournament would put a capstone to what has been a fantastic year.
She won her first Grand Slam title at this year's Australian Open. She has also hoisted trophies in Adelaide and Madrid. But has endured a drought of some sort since early May when she triumphed in the Spanish capital. Sabalenka lost her most recent final at the US Open in September.
Nonetheless, the woman from Minsk remains the highest prize money earner in 2023, tallying $7,554,653 before the WTA Finals. Sabalenka is also a favorite to finish the season as the year-end No. 1.