WTA Finals: Jessica Pegula bosses Aryna Sabalenka; secures SF berth without much fuss

Elena Rybakina put herself on the scoreboard after triumphing over Maria Sakkari, who was subsequently ousted

by Abbey Johnson
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WTA Finals: Jessica Pegula bosses Aryna Sabalenka; secures SF berth without much fuss
© Sarah Stier/ Getty Images

Two days after she bested Elena Rybakina at the WTA Finals, Jessica Pegula returned to down the top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka on Tuesday. In the second round-robin match of the Bacalar Group, Pegula scored a 6-4, 6-3 victory within an hour and 30 minutes.

Sabalenka’s game was way too erroneous even as Pegula was able to control hers quite well. The American finished the match by winning 67% of her first-serve points to Sabalenka’s 52%. She also won 12 of 20 points on her second serve and 12 of 23 points on return on Sabalenka’s second serve.

Across the match, the world no. 4 had two more winners than her opponent’s 15. But she also had 21 fewer unforced errors than the latter’s. This is the second time Jessica Pegula’s qualified for the WTA Finals.

However, in her maiden appearance in the season finale in 2022, the 29-year-old had suffered a brutal exit in the round-robin stages itself after having being unable to win a single match. This year, she’s marked quite a turnaround for herself.

In fact, this year, Pegula’s the first player to definitively make it to the semis in the Mexican tournament after having won both her round-robin encounters.

WTA Finals: Who will join Jessica Pegula in the penultimate round?

In the second round-robin match of the Group, Elena Rybakina regrouped quite strongly after her initial defeat, to get past Maria Sakkari.

The Kazakh nabbed a 6-0, 6-7(4), 7-6(2) result for herself after nearly two hours and 30 minutes of play. Sakkari’s poor showing in the last WTA tournament of the year continued as the match got underway. Understandably, she lashed out, too.

However, as the match went on, she began to finally display signs of a fightback that accounted for her taking the second set and sending the match into the third. But Rybakina came out on top in the end, putting an end to the Greek’s misery in Mexico.

Now, after this result, Sakkari’s run in the 2023 WTA Finals draws to a close. Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka’s upcoming encounter on Thursday will be a virtual quarter-final to determine who’s the second woman to make it to the semis from the Bacalar Group.

Aryna Sabalenka Elena Rybakina Maria Sakkari
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