A year after going 0-3 in round-robin action, Jessica Pegula becomes the first player to advance to the final four of the 2023 WTA Finals. The American defeated world No.1 Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 6-3 on Day 3, adding to her Sunday’s victory over Elena Rybakina in the Bacalar Group.
Despite wasting six match points, Pegula used her experience and stayed calm, eventually converting her seventh match point to defeat Sabalenka for the first time in their last five meetings.
The American’s dominance was in stretches, as she won four consecutive games from 1-2 to 5-2 in the first set and started the second set with a 4-0 lead. The real challenge came at the end. On her first match point, Pegula double-faulted for the first time on Tuesday evening and eventually dropped serve in that game. Sabalenka saved five more match points before eventually succumbing to the seventh one.
Pegula is 49-0 this year when winning the opening set, including 7-0 vs. Top 10 opponents in 2023. In Cancun, she now tops the Bacalar Group. The other semifinalist from this group will be determined in a rematch of the 2023 Australian Open final between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina. Maria Sakkari is eliminated from semifinal contention after losing to Rybakina 6-0 6-7(4) 7-6(2) on Tuesday.