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Pegula stops Swiatek in three-set thriller to reach National Bank Open final

by Tennis Canada

August 12, 2023

Third time's the charm for Jessica Pegula as she outduels Swiatek to reach maiden National Bank Open final

After three consecutive years of reaching the semi-finals at the National Bank Open, the question for Jessica Pegula was whether or not she’d be able to reach Championship Sunday for the first time.

And even against World No. 1 Iga Swiatek on a sunny afternoon in Montreal, we got our answer – yes, the third time is indeed the charm.

The 2021 and 2022 semi-finalist was able to bring her best to court at IGA Stadium on Saturday, capitalizing on uncharacteristically erratic play from Swiatek and the disappointment of losing a tense second set to advance 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-4 in two and a half hours of play.

Jessica Pegula
Photo : Mathieu Bélanger

It was all Pegula to start the first semi-final of the day, as she was the first player to hold serve after four consecutive breaks to kick off play. While the top-seeded Pole was unable to find her range on serve and on her wickedly spun forehand, the American No. 4 seed was able to execute a tactical masterclass, constantly pressuring whichever of Swiatek’s groundstrokes were misfiring and delivering her counterpunches with typically perfect timing.

However, the World No. 1 wouldn’t let her quality stay below her usual standard for long. Swiatek, currently in her 71st consecutive week at the top spot in the WTA Rankings, would find some of her best tennis of the week when down, breaking back as Pegula attempted to serve for the match in the 10th game of the second set and eventually leveling the match after a flawlessly played tiebreak.

Iga Swiatek
Photo : Patrice Lapointe

Smelling blood in the water as Pegula’s resolve appeared to be wavering, Swiatek quickly surged ahead by a break and was able to build a 4-2* lead, coming within two holds of her first final in Canada. However – as was the case for most of the match – the four-time Grand Slam champ’s serving woes persisted.

After a clever dropshot winner in the seventh game that barely cleared the net, Pegula entered another gear, quickly holding, breaking and holding once again to once again move within a game of the National Bank Open final that had thus far eluded her.

In a microcosm of her entire match, unfortunately, Swiatek was unable to find her range in the final game – and Pegula pounced. On one last forehand wide, the match belonged to the Buffalo-born American.

Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula
Photo : Mathieu Bélanger

Capping off the day session was a mouthwatering doubles clash between the No. 2 seeded team of Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens against No. 5 seeds Demi Schuurs and Desirae Krawczyk. 

The two teams put on a show for the remaining IGA Stadium crowd, a large portion of which stuck around after the first singles semi-finals to get a taste of what women's doubles is all about. 

In a battle of deft touch and lefty angles against baseline power,

it was the former that won out as Schuurs and Krawczyk came back from 3-8 down in the match tiebreak, winning seven of the next eight points to prevail 6-3, 3-6, [11-9] and reach their second WTA 1000 final as a team.

Demi Schuurs and Desirae Krawczyk
Photo : Patrice Lapointe