Jessica Pegula clinched the first WTA 1000 title of her career on Sunday, as the No.3 seed from the United States overpowered No.4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-2, 6-3 in the Guadalajara Open Akron final.
In a Top 10 showdown with both players looking for their first WTA 1000 title, their first crown of the year, and their second career title overall, it was Pegula who prevailed with constant depth and strength, dashing through the final in 70 minutes of action.
"I'm just super excited, relieved, happy, like all the emotions," WTA.com quoted Pegula as saying after her victory.
"Dedicating it to my mom was extra special, I know she was watching back home. Just a lot of emotions, but super excited just to get a big title next to my name. 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," she added.
"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," said the Guadalajara Open champion.
Up to 2-2 in the first set, Pegula and Sakkari were well matched, but Pegula went on to win 16 of the following 19 points by hitting groundstrokes and returning deep into the Sakkari court.
Pegula easily won the opening set without encountering a breakpoint. Pegula defeated Sakkari twice in the second set to take a commanding 5-2 lead. The match was extended, however, by Sakkari, who was playing her second match of the day after completing her rain-delayed quarterfinal four hours earlier, who used furious forehands to secure her first break for 5-3.
Pegula, though, was unfazed by the late charge, and she drew errors from Sakkari in the next game to set up a threefold championship point. One strong backhand was all Pegula needed to transform her first match point and clinch the highest-level title of her career.
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