Winning a big title is one thing, backing it up is another. Jessica Pegula went on a bit of a roller coaster after her victory at the National Bank Open in Montreal last August.
There were some moments of brilliance for the American, but in the end, her victory in Montreal ended up being the high point of her season.
Here’s how the rest of 2023 went for the National Bank Open champion.
Tough Act to Follow
Coming off the win in Montreal, Pegula failed to bring the momentum back to her home country.
The very next week in Cincinnati, she struggled to eke out a win in her opening match against qualifier Martina Trevisan before falling in round three to Marie Bouzkova.
Pegula got off to a strong start at her home major, dropping just eight games in her first two matches at the US Open. But after battling past Elina Svitolina in round three, she was unceremoniously eliminated in the round of sixteen by countrywoman Madison Keys with a 6-1, 6-3 loss.
The hard courts of the Far East proved kinder to Pegula than those on her home continent.
In her first event after the US Open, the Buffalo native scored impressive wins over Daria Kasatkina and Maria Sakkari to reach the final in Tokyo, but she lost to Veronika Kudermetova.
After a disappointing loss to the in-form Jelena Ostapenko in Beijing, Pegula bounced back brilliantly in Seoul. The American lost just one set on her way to her second title of the year and capped off the run with a win over Yue Yuan of China.
Near-Perfection at the WTA Finals
Coming into the year-end championship with momentum, Pegula delivered one of the best performances of her career against the world’s best.
In the Group Stage, she did not drop a set in three matches, including two victories over players ranked above her: No. 4 Elena Rybakina and world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka.
Up against her doubles partner Coco Gauff in the semis, Pegula was locked in as she only allowed the US Open champion three games to advance to the biggest final of her career, still having not dropped a set.
However, that’s where the magic ended for the American as she ran into the buzzsaw that is Iga Swiatek in finals.
Pegula finished the season ranked No. 5, two spots below where she was during the National Bank Open. A principal reason for the rankings drop was that she did not defend her 1000 points from winning Guadalajara in 2022.
After the National Bank Opn, Pegula continued to be among the tour’s best dual threats, being competitive in both singles and doubles draws.
However, unlike in singles, she failed to capture a title on the doubles side in the final months of the season.
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Her best result came at the US Open when she and Coco Gauff reached the quarter-finals. Her third-round win in New York ended up being Pegula’s last match win in doubles in 2023 as she finished the year on a six-match losing streak.
Following the US Open, she lost her opening matches in both Tokyo and Beijing before finishing the Group Stage of the WTA Finals 0-3 despite her and Gauff being the top seeds.
Pegula finished the year ranked third doubles.
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