Tuesday, December 12, 2023

PREVIEW | 2023 Toray Pan Pacific Open Final: Jessica Pegula v Veronika Kudermetova – Can the consistent American add to the 2023 title tally?

After a week of action in Tokyo, it all comes down to it with Jessica Pegula facing Veronika Kudermetova on Sunday morning at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for the title. The preview looks at their route to the final, head to head and other talking points.

It will pit one of the WTA’s most consistent players who has already won a WTA 1000 title this summer against one of the WTA’s best players who continues to hold off the big names.

The favorite for the title is World Number Four and it’s easy to see why. You can tell after the US Open where he looked to be in the form of his life and falling to Madison Keys has brought the fire back and he has won every match in straight sets this week.

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But Pegula has long been a player who has been able to string these wins together in smaller tournaments that have not produced Grand Slams, so consistency is not in doubt.

There’s also the part of Pegula’s case that now has a portion of the rest of his season boxed off. That is her WTA Finals spot which she confirmed by defeating Maria Sakkari who is a consistent player like Pegula but failed only to get the Guadalajara title that Pegula won last season after the US Open.

That’s why an in-form player as well as a top seed in Daria Kasatkina was more easily brushed aside in the Quarter-Finals than Cristina Bucsa with the former winning just one game against a barrage by Pegula.

It would be the fourth career title for Pegula to seal it and the sight of another Russian in Liudmila Samsonova in Montreal could be a harbinger against Kudermetova. Before that she only won in Guadalajara and in 2019 in Washington meaning it was also a first WTA 500 title.

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Next up for Pegula is World No.19, Veronika Kudermetova who played one more match than her opponent in Tokyo to reach this point. She defeated Harriet Dart, Kayla Day and the big win then against Iga Swiatek.

Kudermetova who had a bit of a terrible streak against Swiatek like Coco Gauff previously got things going and won their Quarter-Final to leave the new World No.2 soul searching. A win over fellow Russian and a resurgent Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova saw her reach the final.

After winning in straight sets until the Quarter-Final, he has been involved in three sets since then which gives Pegula a slim advantage as he also has a performance bye as the top two seed.

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It will also snap a four-game losing streak in the finals with Kudermetova losing her last in Rosmalen earlier this season. She has a win in April 2021 in Charleston and is looking to add a second WTA 500 title.

But despite a poor record in finals of late, she has a 100% record against Pegula albeit from just one match sealed by Kudermetova in Madrid earlier this year.

On a different surface and in the Quarter-Finals, it was typical Pegula in one way and then another battle that saw Pegula win the second set 6-0 before losing in the decider.

As a result, it is not a huge Head to Head record compared to Sakkari for Pegula or Swiatek for Kudermetova to overcome.

Nation World News Desk
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