Jessica Pegula tops Coco Gauff to reach WTA Finals title match

Associated PressNov 4, 2023, 10:29 PM ET3 Minute Read

CANCUN, Mexico — In a thrilling match at the WTA Finals, Jessica Pegula showcased her skills and defeated US Open champion Coco Gauff with a resounding score of 6-2, 6-1. This exciting contest featured a clash between American doubles partners on a rainy and windy evening and marked Pegula’s first appearance in the championship’s title match.

As their semifinal progressed, the game was tied at 2-all when Pegula, a 29-year-old native of New York now residing in Florida, went on a remarkable run, winning six consecutive games to secure the first set and take a 2-0 lead in the second set.

It was a historic moment as this was the first time in over two decades that two American women faced each other in the final four of the WTA Finals since Serena Williams triumphed over Jennifer Capriati in 2002. After an intense hour of play, Pegula and the third-seeded Gauff exchanged a warm hug at the net.

“Coco is undeniably the present and future of U.S. tennis. I’m proud to be at the top of my game, leading the way for all Americans,” expressed Pegula. “It’s an incredible feeling, and I see myself as a part of that legacy.”

Although they were scheduled to compete in a doubles match later that day, it was unfortunately canceled due to the inclement weather. The second singles semifinal between No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 2 Iga Swiatek was also suspended for the night after only four games due to a storm.

Swiatek was leading 2-1 with Sabalenka serving at 30-all when the weather intervened. The players wrapped themselves in towels for warmth while officials waited for almost two hours before deciding to postpone all matches until the following day.

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, was the runner-up to Gauff at the U.S. Open in September. Swiatek, on the other hand, secured her fourth major championship by winning the French Open in June.

“Considering their Grand Slam victories and previous successes, I assume I’ll once again be considered the underdog,” Pegula acknowledged. “But I have been playing exceptional tennis, and this experience in such a competitive field will undoubtedly boost my confidence for the upcoming year.”

The showdown between Gauff and Pegula experienced an hour-long delay due to showers, adding to the tournament’s unpredictable weather patterns. Additionally, the match was interrupted twice in the second set due to rain, with each pause lasting around 15 minutes. The ever-changing wind conditions also influenced the trajectory of the balls.

“Coco adjusted well to the wind conditions while I struggled. That’s the main difference,” Gauff conceded, also noting that they didn’t have sufficient time for a warmup before taking the court. “At the end of the day, she displayed more experience when dealing with these circumstances. I can’t blame the weather or anything else. We were both in the same situation.”

Indeed, Pegula remained unfazed by the obstacles, as she aims to clinch the most prestigious title of her career.

“Navigating this challenging field and emerging victorious will undoubtedly instill a great deal of confidence in me as I head into the next year,” said Pegula, currently on a nine-match winning streak, which includes her recent victory at the Korean Open. “I believe I’ve handled all my opponents exceptionally well, even amid difficult conditions.”


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