Take Five: Jessica Pegula wins WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara
Welcome to Take Five, a weekly series on USTA.com recapping five of the biggest stories from American tennis over the last week on the professional tennis circuit. The last week of the WTA regular season saw Jessica Pegula capture her second, and biggest, career title in Guadalajara, while Sebastian Korda reached his second ATP singles final in as many weeks in Antwerp.
Jessica Pegula rules in Guadalajara, hits career-high ranking
Jessica Pegula, WTA 1000 champion, has a nice ring to it. The 28-year-old American's career-best 2022 season now boasts her biggest ever title after she triumphed last week at the Guadalajara Open Akron.
Read more at usta.com: Jessica Pegula wins first WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara
More impressive? How she won it: Seeded third, Pegula beat four Grand Slam champions to reach the final, her second at a WTA 1000 event this year. After a first-round bye, Pegula saved three match points against reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina to win 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(8) in Round 2, and she didn't drop a set against the trio of Bianca Andreescu, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka to reach the final. In total, she dropped 19 games in six sets in those three matches.
In the final, she needed just 70 minutes to defeat fourth-seeded Greek Maria Sakkari, 6-2, 6-3.
"I thought I just played really solid, I didn’t really make a lot of silly errors or stupid decisions," Pegula said of her performance against Sakkari, per the WTA website. "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."
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 rises to a career-high singles ranking of No. 3 in this week's rankings thanks to her triumph in Mexico.
Back-to-back: Sebastian Korda reached another final in Antwerp
Sebastian Korda backed up last week's run to the Gijon final with another strong performance in Antwerp. The unseeded American knocked off No. 8 seed Yoshihito Nishioka, No. 4 seed Karen Khachanov and a resurgent Dominic Thiem to reach his fourth career final. Korda's semifinal victory over Thiem was one of the matches of the week: a 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6(4) victory in which he hit 49 winners over 2 hours and 47 minutes of play.
While he was denied his second ATP title by the red-hot Felix Auger-Aliassime, Korda has moved up 14 spots in the ATP rankings in the last two weeks. He now sits at world No. 33, three spots off his career-high of No. 30, achieved in May.
Auger-Aliassime, who lost to Korda in Estoril earlier this season, was full of praise for the 22-year-old after their meeting: "You got me good last time we played, so I’m happy I was able to get a win over you," the Canadian said.
"You’re such a great player, so keep going like this and good luck to you and your team for the rest of the year."
Austin Krajicek wins second doubles title of 2022 in Naples
The top seeds in Naples, Austin Krajicek and Croatia's Ivan Dodig claimed their second title of the year in dramatic fashion. The duo won a match tiebreak to edge Australians Matthew Ebden and John Peers, 6-3, 1-6, 10-8, in Sunday's final, winning the final four points in a row to seal the victory.
The pair, who also won a match tiebreak in the semifinals, completed some unfinished business after falling in the Florence title match one week prior.
“I think Ivan and I played well throughout the two weeks,” Krajicek said, quoted in an ATPTour.com story. “Different conditions obviously, indoors [in Florence] and outdoors here, so we did a good job adjusting.
"Tough one in the final last week, Eddie [Edouard Roger-Vasselin] and Nico [Nicolas Mahut] played really well, but we were excited to give ourselves another chance here, and in the big moments there at the end I think we played well and fortunately we came through there.”
Coco Gauff breaks new ground in singles rankings
Welcome to the Top 5, Coco Gauff.
After reaching the quarterfinals in Guadalajara, the 18-year-old reaches a new best of No. 4 in the WTA singles rankings this week. The last American to crack the WTA Top 5 as a teenager was Serena Williams in 1999.
Gauff is also ranked No. 2 in doubles this week, having touched the No. 1 ranking there for the first time in August after she and Pegula triumphed at the WTA 1000 event in Toronto.
With Pegula moving up to No. 3 in the singles rankings, this week marks the first time that two Americans are ranked in the Top 4 since October of 2010 when Serena Williams was ranked No. 2, and Venus Williams was ranked No. 4
Madison Brengle, Martin Damm, Liv Hovde rule on USTA Pro Circuit
Americans have shown no signs of slowing down in the waning weeks of the 2022 USTA Pro Circuit season. Last week, three home favorites triumphed around the country: For the third time this year, Madison Brengle was a winner at a W60 (Macon, Ga.) while Martin Damm (Harlingen, Texas) and reigning junior Wimbledon winner Liv Hovde (Fort Worth, Texas) triumphed at their respective M25 and W25.
Seventeen-year-old Hovde defeated fellow American teenager Reese Brantmeier to win her second professional title; it comes a month after she won her first, also in Texas at a W15 in Lubbock. Meanwhile, former junior world No. 3 Damm, still just 19, toppled former Top 20 player Bernard Tomic of Australia in three sets to win his third career pro title, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4. In the midst of an attempt to rebuild his career, the 30-year-old Tomic had won his last 14 matches.
Other highlights for Americans around the world last week included:
- Mackenzie McDonald knocked off No. 3 seed Roberto Bautista Agut en route to a semifinal appearance at the ATP 250 event in Naples.
- Catherine Harrison and Belgian partner Yanina Wickmayer reached the doubles final of the ITF World Tennis Tour W60 in Saguenay, Canada, where Francesca DiLorenzo reached the singles semifinals.
- Max Schnur and his partner, Treat Huey of the Philippines, won the doubles title at the ATP Challenger 80 in Hamburg, Germany.
- Anna Rogers and Christina Rosca won the doubles title at the USTA Pro Circuit W60 event in Macon, Ga., beating Maria Mateas and Brengle in an all-American final.