Pegula beats Sakkari in Mexico to win first WTA 1000 title

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Jessica Pegula defeated Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday to capture her first career WTA 1000 title at the Guadalajara Open.

The 28-year-old American eliminated four Grand Slam champions en route to her second career title and the first since 2019, when she won in Washington.

“I’m glad I was able to work through all the tough conditions earlier in the week and finally getting a big title to my name,” Pegula said. “I’m so happy it was at a 1000 event. All the people I beat, my draw to get here in my opinion was the toughest out of everybody.”

Sakkari was off her game after having to play against Marie Bouzkova earlier Sunday because their semifinal match on Saturday night was postponed due to rain. The Greek only rested around four hours between matches.

“Yeah, I was very tired this afternoon. I just didn’t have anything in the tank. I just tried. I was sad that I couldn’t perform better, but I did my best,” Sakkari said. “She deserves it. So I’m not taking away anything from her.”

Sakkari, who on Friday secured the last berth for the WTA Finals in Texas, was trying to capture her first title since 2019.

Pegula, who now has a career-best 41 wins in 2022, qualified for the season-ending tournament last week in San Diego.

With her performance this week in Mexico, the American player will rise to a career-best No. 3 in the WTA rankings on Monday. She is currently ranked fifth.

“I’m just super happy to end my year with a title,” Pegula added. “To be able to do that in the last event of the year, just the reward of going to play the Finals. I’m just excited to end my year on a good note.”

In Mexico, Pegula saved three match points against Elena Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion, in her opening match, then eliminated U.S. Open champions Bianca Andreescu (2019) and Sloane Stephens (2017). She beat two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.

The American got a double break early in the first set to take a 5-2 lead and then consolidated with her serve to dominate the first set in just 27 minutes.

Pegula broke Sakkari´s first serve in the second set to take a 3-1 lead and then added two more breaks in the seventh and ninth games to finish the match.

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