Jessica Pegula tops Coco Gauff to reach WTA Finals title match

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Cancun, Mexico — Jessica Pegula US Open winner Coco Goff defeated her 6-2, 6-1 WTA Finals Saturday was the first time the American doubles partners reached the title game at the season-ending championships on a rainy and windy evening.

They were tied at 2 in the semifinals when fifth-seeded Pegula — a 29-year-old born in New York and now living in Florida who is a decade older than Goff — won the opening set in six straight games and a 2-0 lead in the second.

This is the first time two U.S. women have played each other in the final four at this event since 2002 Serena Williams Beat Jennifer Capriati. When Saturday’s semifinal ended an hour later, Pegula and third-seeded Goff faced each other at the net for a hug.

“Coco is still the present and future of US tennis. I’m happy to be at the top of the game and one of the leaders of all Americans,” Pegula said. “So that’s always really nice. And that’s kind of where I see myself.”

They were scheduled to play a doubles match together later Saturday, but it was rained out — and in the second singles semifinal, between No. 1 Arina Sabalenka And no. 2 Iga Swiatek, was adjourned for the night. They were only in the fourth game when the storm came.

Action was halted with Swiatek leading 2-1 and Sabalenka serving at 30. Both wrapped themselves in white towels against the cold. Organizers waited nearly two hours before calling off all competition for the day.

Swetek and Sabalenka were scheduled to resume their match on Sunday; The singles final, originally scheduled for Sunday, was pushed back to Monday.

Sabalenka won the Australian Open in January and was runner-up to Goff at the US Open in September. Swatek won the French Open in June for his fourth major championship.

“They’ve won Grand Slam titles and big events before, so I guess I’ll probably be the underdog again,” Pegula said, “although I’m playing some really great tennis.”

Pegula won all eight singles sets she played in this week’s tournament for the top eight players in women’s tennis. She is the first player since Williams in 2012 to reach the final without dropping a set.

Goff vs. Pegula started about an hour late because of rain — bad weather has been a theme throughout the WTA Finals — and then the second set was delayed by two rain interruptions in under 15 minutes. Changing wind affects the way the balls travel.

“He was playing well with the wind and I wasn’t. So, yeah, that’s about it,” Goff said, noting they didn’t have a chance to fully warm up before playing on the court. “At the end of the day, he was the more experienced player in this situation. So I wouldn’t blame the weather or anything. We were in the same boat.”

It’s true: None of that has slowed Pegula, who is bidding for the most prestigious title of his career.

“Going through a tough field like this will give me a lot of confidence next year,” said Pegula, who is on a nine-match winning streak, including a run at the Korean Open Trophy last month. “I thought I handled all the opponents really well, even in situations and things like that.”

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