Jessica Pegula beats Maria Sakkari to finish 3-0 in WTA Finals round-robin play


CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Jessica Pegula finished round-robin singles play at the WTA Finals with a 3-0 record a year after going 0-3 at the season-ending championship, heading to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Maria Sakkari on Thursday night.

The fifth-seeded Pegula extended her overall winning streak to eight matches, including a title at the Korean Open last month.

The 29-year-old American has won all six sets she’s played in Cancun so far and will play in the semifinals on Saturday.

“Getting through 3-0 is really kind of a cool accomplishment,” Pegula said, “especially coming off of last year, where it was the opposite.”

Sakkari, who is ranked No. 9 but got into the eight-player field when No. 8 Karolina Muchova withdrew with an injured right wrist, went 0-3 and dropped every set.

“That’s not the way I wanted my season to end,” Sakkari said. “I think that physically and mentally, I was paying a toll for how much I traveled and how much I played and how emotional this season was.”

Pegula had fewer winners than Sakkari, 12-7, but also made roughly half as many unforced errors, 35-18, on a windy evening with some brief rain. Pegula’s doubles match with partner Coco Gauff was postponed until Friday because of showers.

The other semifinalist from their group will be the winner of the rain-interrupted contest between No. 1-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, rematch of this year’s Australian Open final. Sabalenka won that matchup in January for her first Grand Slam title.

Sabalenka was ahead 5-1 in the first set Thursday when play was being delayed because of a storm.

Pegula already had clinched first place in the four-player group by virtue of earlier straight-set victories against Sabalenka and Rybakina on the outdoor hard court built for the event.

The two semifinalists from the other singles group will be settled Friday, when U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff takes on Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, and four-time major champ Iga Swiatek meets three-time Slam runner-up Ons Jabeur.


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