Jessica Pegula soars into final at WTA Finals

League: Tennis

Posted on: 05 Nov, 2023 at 04:54 AM

Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Fifth-seeded American Jessica Pegula cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 sweep of third-seeded countrywoman Coco Gauff on Saturday to punch her ticket to the final of the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico.

It's been quite the turnaround for Pegula, who lost all three of her singles matches at last year's WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.

"I managed to get my act together at the end of the year," Pegula said. "I've done a good job of resetting coming here. It's not fun leaving (Fort Worth) 0-6. I'm glad I've turned the tables. I found a way to make it work. I'm feeling confident going into the finals."

Pegula defeated Gauff, her doubles partner, in exactly one hour. She will go for the title against No. 1 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus or Polish No. 2 seed Iga Swiatek.

Sabalenka and Swiatek were set to face each other later Saturday, but their match was suspended due to rain with Sabalenka down 2-1 in the first set. That match will resume on Sunday, with the final being pushed to Monday.

Meanwhile, Pegula never trailed against Gauff, converting six of 10 break points while recording 10 winners against 10 unforced errors for the match. Gauff had nine winners but was seriously hampered by 22 unforced errors.

Although she has put together a dominant run, Pegula still realizes there is plenty of talent remaining in the field.

"I don't think I consider myself the favorite, considering the two girls (Sabalenka and Swiatek) are ranked ahead of me," Pegula said. "I'll probably be considered the underdog, even though I'm playing great tennis."

Gauff also went 0-3 in Fort Worth but improved to go 2-2 in Cancun. She didn't turn to the poor conditions as an excuse, considering Pegula also had to fend off the wind and rain.

"She was playing well with the wind -- and I wasn't," Gauff said. "I mean, we both had the same circumstances. She just handled them better than I did."

Saturday's match marked the first time two American women faced each other in the semifinals of the WTA Finals since 2002, when Serena Williams beat Jennifer Capriati.

Pegula's focus is now shifting solely to Monday.

"It's probably my biggest final ever," Pegula said. "It's going to give me a lot of confidence going into next year."

--Field Level Media