Friday, April 7, 2023

Two former champions still in the mix in Charleston

Jessica Pegula (photo by Daniel Ward)

Both 2017 champion Daria Kasatkina and 2022 champion Belinda Bencic advanced to the semifinals of the Credit One Charleston Open today. In addition, 2022 finalist Ons Jabeur advanced, as well as top seed Jessica Pegula.

The first quarterfinal of the day featured 2nd seed Jabeur and Anna Kalinskaya. Unfortunately, Kalinskaya was ill and had to retire in the second set (6-0, 4-1). In the next match, 4th seed Bencic defeated 7th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3, 6-3. 3rd seed Kasatkina defeated 9th seed and 2019 champion Madison Keys 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, and in the night match, Pegula defeataed 12th seed Paula Badosa 6-3, 7-6 (6). 

Ons Jabeur and Anna Kalinskaya (photo by Daniel Ward)
Ons Jabeur (photo by Daniel Ward)

The Pegula-Badosa match was routine enough in the first set, but the second set was a thrill ride. Shortly after the set began, the wind began blowing, and paper debris started to fly through the air. It became quite chilly, and the wind came and went throughout the set. Play intensified, as the momentum swung back and forth, and many games went to deuce. Pegula went up 5-3, but Badosa--known for her fighting quality--would have none of it. Eventually, there was a tiebreak, and Pegula emerged the victor. For spectators, it was a great set of tennis.

Here is the semifinal draw:

Jessica Pegula (1) vs. Belinda Bencic (4)
Daria Kasatkina (3) vs. Ons Jabeur (20

And here is what they said about it:

"Belinda is really tough. She's a really tough match-up for me. I haven't played her in a while. I think I've improved a lot since the last time I played her. But we play kind of similar, hit kind of low flat, take it early. And she tends to kind of feed off my pace and like how I play. So it's always match-up for me, but I think maybe the first time on clay, so it'll be interesting to see that, but  she's obviously very confident right now, defending champ, and it’s going to be really tough."
--Jessica Pegula

Belinda Bencic (photo by Daniel Ward)

"I feel Jess is very consistent, and she just --I feel like she does anything with the ball. She redirects very well, and you always feel like she's not even moving, but still she makes it very like, effortless. It looks very effortless when she plays."
--Belinda Bencic

Daria Kasatkina (photo by Daniel Ward)

"…it's going to be another nice match. We're good friends, and it's always nice to share these moments like this, like playing big stages against each other and just I hope we're both going to enjoy it."
--Daria Kasatkina

"Dasha, we had a lot of three-setters together. It's going to be definitely a physical match. She's someone that loves clay. She's someone that, her game suits clay a lot. I think the key tomorrow probably will be patience."
--Ons Jabeur

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