Jessica Pegula outlasts Victoria Azarenka in instant Charleston Open classic

Pegula is now into the semifinals in Charleston.

Jessica Pegula has struggled through much of 2024 and even changed from her long-term coach David Witt. The American was searching to do anything to improve her game as she felt she was losing ground to younger opponents. She has always been a jane of all trades and a master of none. But her ability to power past opponents simply did not hold true against younger players such as Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka.

In the quarterfinals of the Charleston Open, Pegula faced a familiar foe, however, Victoria Azarenka. Since 2021, the two have faced off five times. Both players have at one time or another been ranked in the top five on the WTA tour, though only Azarenka has won Grand Slam titles, twice winning the Australian Open. Pegula has always been good enough to beat most opponents, but never great enough to consistently beat the elites.

Azarenka has been in good form for most of this year as well. She has not won a title in 2024, but she has made decent runs in some, including reaching the semifinals at the Brisbane International and Miami Open. And while Azarenka is four years older than Pegula, both players seem to remain uncommonly calm in high-stress moments while Azarenka seemingly plays with more outward passion.

Jessica Pegula defeats Victoria Azarenka to move to the semifinals of the Charleston Open

The quarterfinal at the Charleston Open was not easy on either player, however. Jessica Pegula held multiple match points. Azarenka, though, led the third-set tie-break 6-3. Neither player played poorly enough to give the match away at any point, but both played well enough to win the match until the other player came up with a brilliant shot to steal another point.

The shame is that the match had to end at all. Such excellent tennis being played by both players at the same time is rare. Yet, finally, Pegula, the top seed in the Charleston Open, won the tie-break 9-7 to win 6-4 3-6 7-6(7). Should either player have won more easily? Yes, but the reason they did not was the player of their opponent and not their own mistakes.

In the end, Azarenka slammed her racket down in frustration as her last strike of the ball went long and allowed the American to win. But she also showed enough class to quickly overcome her anger with herself to meet Pegula at the net and hug in mutual respect. The match was not only the best of the tournament, but one of the best of 2024 so far.

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