Jessica Pegula wins first WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara
Good things come to those who wait: Jessica Pegula's career-best 2022 season now has a big title to go along with it. The third-seeded American rolled past Maria Sakkari in Sunday's final at the Guadalajara Open Akron 6-2, 6-3 to win her first-ever WTA 1000 title.
It's Pegula's second career WTA victory, and first title since she won the Citi Open in 2019.
Both players were bidding for their first career WTA 1000 crown, with each having reached a final at this level already in 2022: Sakkari was beaten by Iga Swiatek in Indian Wells in March, while Pegula lost out to Ons Jabeur in Madrid in May.
It was a well-earned crowning moment for Pegula, who beat four Grand Slam champions to reach the final before easing to a 70-minute victory against fourth-seeded Sakkari. In Round 2, Pegula saved three match points against reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina to win 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(8), and she later knocked off Bianca Andreescu, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka to reach the final.
Five wins in Guadalajara improves Pegula's win-loss record this year to 41-17. Only two players have won more main-draw matches in 2022: world No. 1 Swiatek (62) and No. 2 Jabeur (46). Since the start of 2021, Pegula has the most wins at WTA 1000 events (39) than any other player on tour.
"Just a lot of emotions, but super excited just to get a big title next to my name," Pegula said in victory. "That was something I really wanted this year, and I kept saying it was one of my goals, so to be able to accomplish it at the end of the year is really cool.
"I thought I just played really solid, I didn’t really make a lot of silly errors or stupid decisions. I served really smart, I returned well. There were a lot of different points where I had to maybe slice and come in, or serve and volley, or do something different, and I just didn’t panic, I just kind of did what I had to do to win the point, and it was working."
Road to the Championship - Jessica Pegula
R2: def. Elena Rybakina (KAZ) - 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(8)
R3: def. Bianca Andreescu (CAN) - 6-4, 6-4
QF: def. Sloane Stephens (USA) - 6-2, 6-2
SF: def. Victoria Azarenka - 7-6(3), 6-1
F: def. (4) Maria Sakkari - 6-2, 6-3
A three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist in 2022, Pegula came into the week already assured of a place at the season-ending WTA Finals in both singles and doubles; in the latter, she'll partner with fellow American Coco Gauff. She'll rise to a career-high singles ranking of No. 3 in Monday's rankings thanks to her triumph in Mexico.