2023 WTA Finals: Pegula finishes runner-up to new No. 1 Swiatek
Jessica Pegula's perfect run at the WTA Finals came to a sudden end in Monday's title match against Iga Swiatek, who reclaimed the WTA's world No. 1 ranking by winning the year-end title in Cancun.
On a windy and rainy week in Cancun, Pegula stormed into the final without losing a set in four victories, including a group-stage win against then-world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka and a semifinal triumph against doubles partner Coco Gauff.
But a peak performance from Swiatek proved too much in the final, as Pegula fell, 6-1, 6-0, to finish runner-up.
"She played really solid," the American said. "I felt like she really was putting a lot of pressure on me. And I think I just was overplaying a lot today. I don't know why. But it just was one of those days where I felt like I was going for too much."
Pegula will finish the year as world No. 5, joining No. 3 Gauff in the top five. She compiled a 2-3 record in finals on the season, winning titles in Montreal and Seoul and finishing runner-up in Doha, Tokyo and Cancun. Her Doha defeat also came against Swiatek, whom Pegula was quick to praise following their most recent meeting.
"She's been, in my mind, the one to beat the last couple years,” Pegula said. “She's showing that even when she loses some matches or doesn't win the tournament, that she's still bouncing right back and is playing at a high level every single week.
"That's what a top player does, what a champion does, and I think she showed that."
Now it will be Pegula's turn to bounce back from a high-profile defeat as she looks ahead to the 2024 season.
In the WTA Finals doubles event, American Nicole Melichar-Martinez also reached the title match alongside Aussie partner Ellen Perez. The eighth seeds won two straight matches to advance out of the group stage and then edged Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe, 6-1, 6-7(1), 10-6, to reach the final.
They were turned back in the title match, 6-4, 6-4, by Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva.
Melichar-Martinez, who reached a career-high doubles ranking of No. 6 in July, will finish the season as world No. 15. She is one of five Americans among the doubles top 16, joining joint No. 3s Gauff and Pegula, No. 7 Taylor Townsend, and No. 16 Desirae Krawczyk.
Gauff and Pegula also competed in doubles at the WTA Finals, as did Krawczyk and Dutch partner Demi Schuurs, though neither team advanced out of the group stage.