Pegula on the verge of making history at WTA Finals

Jessica Pegula, the American tennis star, is one win away from securing her spot at the WTA Finals Cancun, the prestigious year-end tournament that features the top eight players of the season. Pegula has been in sensational form this year, winning three titles and reaching the semifinals of the US Open. She is currently ranked No.4 on the WTA Finals Leaderboard, and needs to reach the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo this week to guarantee her qualification.

A breakthrough season for Pegula

Pegula, who turned 29 in February, has enjoyed a remarkable rise in the rankings this year, climbing from No.64 at the start of the season to a career-high No.9 as of September 25. She has won 42 matches this year, more than any other player on tour, and has claimed three trophies: the Canadian Open in Montreal, a WTA 1000 event, the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, a WTA 500 event, and the Citi Open in Washington DC, a WTA 250 event.

Pegula on the verge of making history at WTA Finals
Pegula on the verge of making history at WTA Finals

Pegula has also shown her prowess on the biggest stages, reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open, where she lost to eventual champion Coco Gauff in three sets. She also made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon, becoming one of only three players to reach the last eight at three majors this year, along with Gauff and Iga Swiatek.

Pegula’s success has been built on her aggressive baseline game, her powerful serve and forehand, and her improved fitness and mental toughness. She has also benefited from working with her coach David Witt, a former hitting partner of Venus Williams, who has helped her develop her tactical awareness and variety.

A historic opportunity for Pegula

Pegula has already made history by becoming the first player to qualify for the WTA Finals in both singles and doubles in the same year since Serena Williams in 2014. She and Gauff, who are also close friends off the court, have formed a formidable partnership this year, winning two titles and reaching two more finals. They are currently ranked No.1 on the WTA Finals Leaderboard in doubles.

Pegula now has a chance to join an elite group of players who have won both singles and doubles titles at the WTA Finals in the same year. Only six players have achieved this feat in the history of the tournament: Martina Navratilova (1981, 1983-86), Martina Hingis (1998-2000), Kim Clijsters (2003), Serena Williams (2009), Maria Sharapova (2012) and Sara Errani (2013).

To secure her spot in singles, Pegula needs to reach the final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open this week, where she is seeded No.2 behind Swiatek. She has already advanced to the quarterfinals with a straight-sets win over Nao Hibino on Wednesday. She will face either Caroline Garcia or Daria Kasatkina in the last eight on Friday.

A strong field awaits Pegula at Cancun

If Pegula qualifies for Cancun, she will face a tough challenge from a strong field of contenders. The WTA Finals will be held from November 8 to November 15 at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Mexico, marking the first time that the event will be held in Latin America.

The first four players to qualify for Cancun are Sabalenka, Swiatek, Gauff and Rybakina, who have all had stellar seasons and won multiple titles. Sabalenka is currently ranked No.1 on the WTA Finals Leaderboard with 6561 points, followed by Swiatek with 6316 points, Gauff with 5242 points and Rybakina with 4061 points.

The remaining four spots are still up for grabs, with several players in contention. Marketa Vondrousova and Karolina Muchova are currently ranked No.6 and No.7 on the Leaderboard with 3042 and 2782 points respectively, but they have both withdrawn from Tokyo due to injuries. Ons Jabeur is ranked No.8 with 2776 points, but she faces stiff competition from Maria Sakkari (No.9 with 2461 points), Madison Keys (No.10 with 2331 points) and Petra Kvitova (No.11 with 2286 points), who are all playing in Ningbo this week.

The race to Cancun will be decided by the results of four more tournaments: Beijing (WTA 1000), Zhengzhou (WTA 500), Hong Kong (WTA 250) and Cluj-Napoca (WTA 250). The top eight players on the Leaderboard at the end of these events will qualify for Cancun.

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