Jessica Pegula finishes as singles runner-up, doubles champion with Coco Gauff in Doha
Playing her first tournament since the Australian Open, Jessica Pegula had a strong week at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha. The top-ranked American finished as the singles runner-up and the doubles champion alongside Coco Gauff at the WTA 500 event.
Pegula, seeded No. 2, saved two match points in a dramatic Round 2 singles win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, before beating Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia and No. 5 seed Maria Sakkari to reach her sixth career WTA singles final. She was beaten in Saturday's final by world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, 6-3, 6-0, but left Doha as a champion as she and Gauff successfully defended the title they won a year ago by beating Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kichenok in Friday's doubles final, 6-4, 2-6, [10-7].
Both finals were contested by the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at the tournament; Gauff and Pegula were the top seeds in the doubles draw, and didn't lose a set before knocking off the second-seeded Latvian-Ukrainian pair in a match tiebreak.
Pegula beat Swiatek in their first meeting of the season at the United Cup last month, but couldn't find the answers against the top-ranked Pole in a 69-minute championship match. The American never led, though the pair traded service breaks twice in the opening set; however, after breaking Swiatek's serve for a second time in the seventh game, Pegula wouldn't win another.
After overcoming blustery conditions in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win against Sakkari to reach the final, Pegula pointed to a perfect storm of conditions that works in Swiatek's favor in their latest meeting. Swiatek now holds a 5-2 lead over Pegula in their all-time head-to-head.
"[In] Sydney, I was playing really well on that center court there," Pegula said afterwards. "It was low, it was fast, it was slick. These courts are gritty, much slower, and the windy conditions today seemed like it was favoring her a little bit more than me."
Swiatek hit more than twice Pegula's total of winners in victory (14 to 6), and broke the American's serve six times. Swiatek was, in fact, particularly effective on return overall: Pegula won only 39% of the points behind her serve in the match.
"I don't really think I played bad at all," Pegula added. "It was just two totally different sides of the world, dry, Sydney was a little more humid. I think it was just totally different conditions. ... I played really great, didn't make a lot of errors, played really aggressive. Today it was the opposite. It was just one of those days.
"I thought maybe the wind would bother the fact that she hit so much spin, sometimes the wind can kind of take it. Seemed like she was playing with really good margins, and she was still taking the ball I think pretty early. ... I think that was her goal was to play super aggressive and not let the wind become a factor, keep her margins really big, which she was able to do.
"I wish I would have returned a little bit better. Again, I think the wind kind of took away some of that ability. I wasn't able to be as aggressive as I like to be, just with the conditions, but at the same time, I thought she served really well, she served really smart. Seemed like she hit a lot of high first-serve percentage, as well.
"I wish I probably would have served a little bit better, I think, maybe served a little bit smarter. I don't think I served horrible, but I think I could have maybe set myself up a little bit better than I did and maybe would have held serve maybe once at least more in the first set. I would have loved to see if I kept that first set a lot tighter what the outcome would have been."
Twelve months ago, Gauff and Pegula burst onto the scene as a doubles pair with their victory in Doha, the first of three titles they won as a duo in 2022. The two Americans have since developed into one of the world's best teams: They also reached the final at Roland Garros last year, and qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas in both singles and doubles.