‘An Interesting Feeling’ - Jessica Pegula On Being the Highest Remaining Seed At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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‘An Interesting Feeling’ – Jessica Pegula On Being the Highest Remaining Seed At Australian Open

With the world No.1 and No.2 crashing out, can the American seize the moment?

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Jessica Pegula admits it feels almost surreal that she is the highest-ranked player left in a Grand Slam event but she is not getting carried away. 

 

Pegula sealed her place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday with a 7-5, 6-2, win over former French Open champion Barbora Krejčíková. Making it the third year in a row she has reached the last eight at Melbourne Park. She has won more matches at the tournament than any other Grand Slam and recorded two out of her 11 wins over top-10 players at the event. 

It is evident that the Australian Open has brought Pegula good fortune in recent years but now she faces a new challenge. After the exit of Ons Jabeur in round two and Iga Swiatek in round four, the 28-year-old heads the field as she chases after the biggest title of her career. 

“It’s an interesting feeling. I still don’t really feel like that.” Pegula told reporters about being the highest-ranked player left in the draw.
“I look at the draw…you have (Elena) Rybakina who won Wimbledon last year, you have Vika (Azarenka) who does really well here, Caroline (Garcia) won the WTA Championships. It doesn’t really feel like I’m the highest left, even though I guess that’s a cool stat. It feels like there’s still a long way to go, to be honest.”

Pegula is very much a late bloomer on the Tour. 18 out of her 30 wins at major events have occurred since the start of 2022. To put that into perspective, she made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 US Open. It was also last year when she cracked the top 10 for the first time and won her first WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara. 

“I want to do more, achieve more. But I think sometimes you kind of have to stop and appreciate it because I feel like it goes by so fast,” she commented on her latest run.
“I think at the same time it’s nice to kind of enjoy it. I think you have to find those moments to help you stay present. All the hard work and stuff like that that I put in, this is why I’m here, that’s why I did that.” 

Seeking a place in her first Grand Slam semi-final, Pegula believes she has found a winning combination with a rise in her form and more experience behind her. 

“I have a great shot. Throughout the whole tournament, I’ve been playing the best I have than in any of my other Grand Slam quarterfinals. That I think helps.” She said. 
“I think I feel more experience coming in here. I think my win today will give me a lot of confidence. But, again, it’s always a new day, a new match, new conditions, and new everything. You never know how you’re really going to feel.”

Should Pegula go on to win the Australian Open, it would be the second time in the past three years the women’s title has been won by the third seed. Naomi Osaka did so in 2021. 

Pegula will play either Victoria Azarenka or Zhu Lin in the next round.

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Alycia Parks Stuns Garcia To Win First Tour Title In Lyon

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Rising star Alycia Parks is on the verge of breaking into the world’s top 50 for the first time after stunning world No.4 Caroline Garcia in straight sets to win the Lyon Open. 

 

22-year-old Parks, who contested just three WTA main draws last year, battled to a 7-6(7), 7-5, win over Garcia who is the first top-five player she has beaten on the Tour. Throughout the final, the American didn’t drop serve after saving all four break points she faced. In total, she produced 28 winners with 15 of those being aces. It is only the second time she has beaten a top 10 player on the Tour after Maria Sakkari at the Ostrava Open last year. 

“I want to thank you for all coming out, this title means a lot to me,” Parks said afterwards. “France has a special part in my heart right now. I want to congratulate Garcia, you had an amazing week, keep playing how you’re playing.”

The victory caps off what has been a breakthrough week for Parks who dropped two sets in five matches played which was in her opening two rounds. Earlier in the tournament, she also defeated seventh seed Danka Kovinic and fourth seed Petra Martic to become only the third unseeded player to win a WTA event so far this year.  

Parks was ranked 199th in the world 12 months ago but has climbed up the rankings and is now set to break into the world’s top 70 for the first time on Monday. Towards the end of last year, she won back-to-back WTA 125 tournaments and has now won 16 out of her last 17 matches played. Her only loss was to Czech teenager Sara Bejlek in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open.

As for Garcia, Sunday’s clash was the first time she had contested a WTA final in her home city of Lyon. Coming into her clash with Parks, she had won 10 out of her last 11 finals played on the Tour. It is the 40th time in her career she has lost to an American player in a WTA main draw.

Congrats on an amazing week and the (past) couple of months have been unbelievable (for you),” said Garcia. “It’s your first WTA title today and it was well deserved. You played amazing and if you keep playing like this you are for sure going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks, who graduated from High School in 2019, is coached on the Tour by her father Michael who has been her main mentor since childhood. 

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Garbine Muguruza Switches Focus From Ranking Points To Enjoyment In Hunt For Form

Ranked outside the WTA top 80 for the first time since 2013, Muguruza is hoping to stage a comeback with the help of a new perspective.

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Garbine Muguruza (ESP) waves to the crowd after defeating Fiona Ferro (FRA) on No.2 Court in the first round of the Ladies' Singles at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 1 Monday 28/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

To say that last year was tough for Gabine Muguruza is a bit of an understatement. 

 

The Spaniard started 2022 among the best players in the world and was ranked No.3 as a result of her triumph at the WTA Finals just a couple of months earlier. However, the year didn’t go as planned for two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza who won just 12 matches. In total, she played in 17 tournaments but only managed to score back-to-back victories in two of them. In October she plummeted down the rankings from 13th to 57th. 

Muguruza’s problems have continued into this season. She is yet to win a match and is now down to 82nd in the world which is her lowest position in almost a decade. January 2013 was the last time the 29-year-old was ranked outside the top 100. 

“I’ve had so many moments in my career where I’ve been so high, and other moments when I’ve not been so high. It’s a process of trying to get back up there,” the former world No.1 told The National. “Now I’m focusing on training hard and being humble.
“You have to know that maybe you haven’t had the success recently as you had in other years, but that’s fine because things can change very quickly.
“With tennis, one week it can go wrong, then next week it can go well, then everything changes again. I think experience helps me to stay calm in the not-so-good moments when I haven’t been playing as well or results haven’t followed.”

It is a frustrating situation for somebody of Muguruza’s ability to be in. At the 2021 WTA Finals, she scored four wins over top-10 players but since then hasn’t beaten anybody ranked higher than No.31 in the world. 

Eager to get back to the top of the sport, she has decided to change her outlook on how she approaches the Tour. Muguruza, who is coached by Conchita Martinez, now says her main priority is enjoying her tennis. If this is achieved, she is confident the results will follow in due course. 

“I feel that this year it’s more about keeping it calm and more simple,” she said. “Last year I put myself under a lot of pressure, telling myself to keep going to stay at the top all the time. That definitely didn’t help me, and it was a bit of a struggle.
“This year, yes ranking is important – I’ve been at every possible ranking – but that is not my priority anymore. Now it’s about enjoying my time on court and taking the trophies back home, then we’ll see what the ranking is.”

Muguruza’s next test will be at the Abu Dhabi Open, which will get underway on Monday. She has been drawn to play Karolina Pliskova in the first round who recently reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Then if she wins, she faces Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. 

“I played some good tennis [in Australia]. A bit disappointed about the quarter-final but overall my level is there. Of course, there are some things to improve to become more solid but overall the situation is quite good,” Pliskova said ahead of the first round clash. 

12 months ago Muguruza reached the third round in Abu Dhabi before losing to Maria Sakkari. 

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Injured Bianca Andreescu retires From Semi-Final match In Hua Hin

The Canadian was looking to book a spot in her first WTA final of the year but was forced to retire after injuring her right shoulder.

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Lesia Tsurenko booked her spot in the final of the Thailand Open in Hua Hin after Bianca Andreescu was forced to retire whilst down 7-6, 4-0.

 

The first set was extremely tight with the first four games being breaks of serve. Andreescu got the crucial break to lead 5-3 and served for the first set but the Ukrainian fought back to level the set at 5-5. Then Tsurenko was the one to break serve but she was able to close out the first set.

After the opener, the semi-final clash went completely one-sided with Tsurenko taking over by winning four games off the trot before Andreescu decided to call it quits. The Canadian had a medical timeout during a second set changeover.

Tsurenko gave full credit to her opponent and despite the retirement says it was a very difficult match.

“Bianca is such an amazing player she said. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today”. She said.

Tsurenko is looking to win her fifth WTA title and will be playing in her first final since 2019 in Hua Hin. She faces the China’s Lin Zhu who earlier in the day beat the number seven seed Xinyu Wang 6-2, 6-4, in one hour and 38 minutes to book her spot in the final.

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