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Pegula Survives Azarenka To Reach Charleston Semis

Apr 6th 2024

Pegula survives Azarenka 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 to reach Charleston Open semis

Jessica Pegula, one of two remaining Americans and the #1 seed, took on former world #1 and two-time grand slam champion, Victoria Azarenka for a coveted spot in the final four. The thirty-four-year-old from Belarus was seeking her first clay court semi since 2013 Roland Garros with her last title on the dirt in Marbella in 2011.

Pegula, three years her junior, reached the semis at the Credit One Open last year (l. Bencic) and is still in search of her first tour-level clay court title. Pegula’s round of 16 match against Magda Linette was straightforward and in straight sets but battled for 2 ½ hours in the previous round with fellow American Amanda Anisimova before prevailing 7-3 in the final set tiebreak. 

Azarenka led the head-to-head 3-2 including their last match in the quarters at the 2023 Australian Open. She is currently ranked #26 and was seeded 12th in Charleston. After breezing through her first match against Elisabetta Cocciaratto, she battled for 2 ¾ hours against the formidable left-handed American, Taylor Townsend. 

Azarenka won the toss and elected to serve. She opened with a backhand volley winner but faced two deuce and three break points before holding while Pegula struck two forehand winners and held to 15 to level.  

Jessica Pegula


Azarenka opened with a double fault but with a brilliant backhand down the line held easily to 15 for 2-1 while Pegula made 4/5 first serves and held to 15 for 2-2. The two-time Australian Open champion missed 4/5 fist serves, faced triple break point, and dumped serve when Pegula crushed a backhand down the line.

The #1 American missed 4/6 first serves and gave back the break when Azarenka executed a deft backhand drop shot. The former world #1 was unable to consolidate the break as the forehand unforced errors continued to accrue. Pegula serving with new balls up 4-3, faced double break point but with two outstanding backhand winners, held for 5-3

Azarenka serving to stay in the set, made 4/5 first serves and held easily to 15 for 4-5. Pegula led 30-0 but soon faced break point following two consecutive backhand winners from Azarenka. She reached set point following two return errors and secured it with a spectacular crosscourt forehand.

Azarenka served first in the second and held easily to 15 while Pegula held to 30 with two consecutive winners including her first ace. Azarenka opened the third game with a double fault and dropped serve following two consecutive winners from the American.

Pegula gifted three unforced errors and faced double break point but with an incredible forehand down the line, held for 3-1. Azarenka opened the fifth with another double fault and with a slew of unforced errors including two additional double faults, faced three break points yet managed to hold with her first ace and an overcooked return.  

Pegula donated three unforced errors and dumped serve while Azarenka, serving with new balls, made 4/5 first serves and consolidated the break for 4-3. The American clearly frustrated with her level, committed three additional errors and dumped serve while Azarenka made 3/4 first serves and held easily to 15 to clinch the set.

Pegula served first in the decider and dropped serve and Azarenka returned the favor. Pegula opened the third with a netted forehand and once again dumped serve when Azarenka pummeled a backhand down the line. Azarenka missed 4/4 first serves including two additional double faults and gave back the break. Level at 2-2, Pegula struck two aces and for the first time, held serve.

Azarenka opened with a double fault and though she faced three deuce and three break points, held for 3-3 with two outstanding forehand winners while Pegula made 3/5 first serves and held to 15 for 4-3. Azarenka opened the eighth with an extraordinary forehand down the line on the run and with a forehand winner crosscourt and let cord winner, reached parity.

The #1 seed made 4/5 first serves and held easily to 15 while the former world #1 serving to stay in the match, gifted another double fault, faced three deuce and four match points but with the perfect mix of offense and defense, held for 5-5!

The partisan crowd fully engaged throughout this enthralling battle, cheered on their charge as she held at love for 6-5. Azarenka serving to stay in the match and force the breaker, struck two consecutive forehand winners and with a big serve up the tee, held for 6-6.

The players changed ends level at 3-3. Azarenka struck two consecutive winners including a backhand volley and drop shot and reached triple match point at 6-3. With her twelfth double fault and two consecutive winners from Pegula, they once again changed ends level at 6-6

Azarenka reached match point after Pegula netted a forehand but with a marvelous crosscourt backhand winner, Pegula leveled at 7-7. After two and half hours, the Buffalo native would clinch the breaker, secure victory, and reach the penultimate round following two consecutive forehand errors from Azarenka.

It was a high-quality, entertaining, and unpredictable match as both players repeatedly wrestled control from the other. Azarenka’s dozen double faults cost her the match as she was more effective on break points converted, as well as second serve and second serve return points won. 

Next up for Pegula, world #11, Daria Kasatkina. The twenty-six-year-old Russian took out the red-hot Romanian, Jacqueline Cristian in three tight sets to reach the semis at this WTA 500 event.

Pegula has beaten Kastakina twice in three meetings including on the dirt in Rome in 2021. Her only loss came this year in Adelaide via a walkover. Kastakina will pose a significant challenge for the American for she is comfortable on the dirt, having won this event in 2017 and reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2022