Pegula off to a great start to the WTA Finals.
Jessica Pegula has become the first American since Serena Williams in 2012 to earn three wins over the world No 1 in a single season, via OptaAce. On Tuesday, world No 5 Pegula ousted top-ranked Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 6-3 in her second match at the WTA Finals.
In the first week of the 2023 season, Pegula defeated Iga Swiatek at the United Cup – the Pole was the world No 1 at the time. Also, Pegula beat Swiatek in Montreal while the Pole was still the top-ranked player in the game.
By beating Sabalenka, Pegula emulated one of Williams’ feats but also secured a semifinal ticket at the WTA Finals since she is now 2-0 in her group.
3 – Jessica Pegula is the first American to claim three wins in a season against the WTA’s #1 since Serena Williams in 2012.
Since 2000, Pegula is fourth to achieve the feat after Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati.
How Pegula beat Sabalenka?
After claiming back-to-back breaks in the fifth and seventh games and winning four games in a row, Pegula opened a 5-2 first-set lead.
Down by two breaks, Sabalenka refused to quit as she managed to get one break back and cut the deficit to 4-5. Serving for the set in her second attempt, Pegula remained calm and realized her first set point to seal the opener.
After winning the first set, Pegula started the second set with back-to-back breaks and a comfortable 4-0 lead. Pegula failed to serve out for the match in the eighth game but broke Sabalenka again in the following game, when the Belarusian was serving to stay in the match. “I feel more comfortable playing [top players] this year, I feel more confident.
I don’t think it feels like such a big deal. Last year when I made Top 5, I think I psyched myself out a little bit — not a lot. You have a couple thoughts in your head — do I really belong at that level? I was always good at beating those below me, but now you have to beat the one or two before you.
I think you put a bigger emphasis on that. And I think this year, I’ve not really cared. I’ve had more confidence in those matches and that’s why I’ve got more top wins — in big moments. I feel that’s where I’ve improved a little bit,” Pegula said after beating Sabalenka.