Doha | Swiatek sets up final clash with Pegula

Iga Swiatek swatted away the cold and blustery conditions along with any possibility of a serious challenge from Veronika Kudermetova to reach the final of the Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha on Friday, where she will meet Jessica Pegula in defence of her title, after the American saw off Maria Sakkari in 3 sets in her earlier semi-final.

It always takes a lot to win against Jessie. She's a great player, a really solid one. We'll see, honestly. I'm not going to predict anything or over-analyse. I'm just going to go out and play my best tennis, and we'll see. Yeah, I can’t, like, say, straightforward, that it's going to be easy or not. It's going to be a great battle. Iga Świątek

The World No 1 and defending champion breezed past Kudermetova for the loss of a single game, taking just 56 minutes to demolish the Russian, 6-0 6-1, and improving their head-to-head record to 3-0.

The 21-year old Pole player completely dominated Kudermetova, and has dropped just 8 games in 6 sets against her.

Meanwhile, Pegula, the World No 4, needed almost 2 hours to dispatch Sakkari, the 5th seed from Greece, 6-2 4-6 6-1, in the difficult conditions.

“That was probably the hardest conditions I’ve ever had to play in, wind-wise,” the American said later. “I’m glad I didn’t get too frustrated. I think I played very smart.”

Swiatek, the top seed, coped with the conditions with some aplomb, striking 14 winners to 5 unforced errors and breaking Kudermetova’s serve 5 times, while the Russian could only muster 4 winners to 15 miscues, and never earned a break point.

“I was pretty worried about how I was going to compete with the conditions today, so I’m glad that I could play the smart way,” Swiatek said afterwards. “I’m pretty happy that I was so solid.”

Swiatek has lost just 2 games in her 2 completed matches in Doha this week, beating America’s Danielle Collins by the same score before being given a walkover into the semi-final by Belinda Bencic.

Jessica Pegula needed 3 sets to get past Maria Sakkari to reach the final in Doha where she will meet Iga Swiatek

© Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Her next opponent, Pegula, dealt with the wind more effectively than her opponent for a set-and-a-half, adapting her game to play with greater margin while trying to grab any advantage offered via slices and drop-shots to disrupt Sakkari’s rhythm in the rallies.

She opened up a 4-1 lead with 2 breaks in the first set and, although Sakkari pulled one of them back for 2-4, Pegula sealed the first set with her 3rd in the 7th game.

Pegula earned herself another in the opening game of the second, but Sakkari broke back to draw level at 2-2, only for the American 2nd seed to open up a 4-2 lead.

She began to lose her accuracy, though, as Sakkari began to find her mark with her forehand, while a pair of untimely double-faults as the American served to stay in the set, including one on set point, enabled the Greek to level the match at a set all.

After an early trade of breaks at the start of the 3rd set, Pegula found her best tennis of the day to race away with the decider, and the 5-time major quarter-finalist surged towards the finishing line with a series of fluent, well-struck winners.

Moving in to put away points at the net proved critical, and a neat forehand volley sealed Pegula’s 2nd match point to send her into her first final of 2023, the 6th of her career.

Iga Swiatek is at her dominant best in Doha, dropping just 2 games in 2 matches as she defends her title

© Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Pegula’s formidable opponent on Saturday is Swiatek in what will be their 7th meeting, with the young Pole leading their head-to-head 4-2, but the 28-year old American outclassed her, 6-2 6-2, in the semi-finals of the United Cup in January.

Swiatek is looking forward to a chance to avenge herself, saying in her post match press conference: “It always takes a lot to win against Jessie. She’s a great player, a really solid one.

“We’ll see, honestly. I’m not going to predict anything or over-analyse. I’m just going to go out and play my best tennis, and we’ll see.

“Yeah, I can’t, like, say, straightforward, that it’s going to be easy or not. It’s going to be a great battle,” she added.

While the 3-time Grand Slam champion appreciated the American’s clean performance, Swiatek touched on how travelling had taken a physical toll on her ahead of their United Cup encounter.

“But, yeah, in Sydney, for sure, you know, she played a really clean performance, and that’s for sure,” Swiatek said. “But on the other hand, we were kind of travelling, and United Cup was pretty difficult tournament to, kind of, save your energy, when you were sitting on the bench and cheering all the time.

“I’m not used to that,” she admitted. “So we’ll see what’s gonna happen tomorrow, but for sure I feel more refreshed than I felt in United Cup.”

The final at the 2023 Qatar Total Energies Open is the Pole’s first title clash of the year as she bids to land her 12th career title, while Pegula has already lifted a trophy at the United Cup representing Team USA.

Jessica Pegula & Coco Gauff won the Qatar TotalEnergies Open doubles title in Doha on Friday, defeating Lyudmyla Kichenok & Jelena Ostapenko in the final

Photo by Qatar Tennis Federation/

Pegula returned to the court later on Friday to win the doubles title with Coco Gauff, continuing their good form for the year.

They reached the Australian Open semi-finals, and have dominated in every match in Doha, reaching the final without losing a set.

In the final, the American top seeds took on Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko & Lyudmyla Kichenok from Ukraine, the No 2 seeds, and they started strongly by breaking twice to build a comfortable 3-0 lead.

A run of 5 games, all with breaks, followed but their early lead was sufficient for them to ride out the first set, 6-4, but Kichenok & Ostapenko then broke their opponents 3 times, and, although they dropped serve once, they took the second swiftly, 6-2, sending the final into a match tiebreak.

The margins were slim in the breaker, with neither team able to build anything more than a 2-point cushion, but, at 7-7, the reigning champions surged as Gauff put away a tentative return from Kichenok to build an 8-7 lead, and then got the better of Ostapenko from the baseline to earn 2 championship points.

Gauff & Pegula needed just one, as Pegula put in a strong cross-court forehand return to put Ostapenko on defence and closed out the match on a forehand miss from the Latvian.

With their successful title defence, Gauff & Pegula are now 9-0 as a team, and have since emerged as one of the premier doubles teams on the Hologic WTA Tour, winning 2 WTA 1000 titles, in Doha and Toronto, and making their first major final at Roland Garros, while they also became the first pair to qualify for the WTA Finals in both singles and doubles since Serena and Venus Williams in 2009.



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