Jessica Pegula conquered Sakkari in Melbourne at the Aussie Open and now she wants to do a double over the Greek in as many months. Like in Australia, this is a Round of 16 clash with a quarter final berth against Coco Gauff at stake. Pegula, the American number one, is not that strong in the later stages of tournaments. It is probably the reason why she only has one career title. So lots of similarities with Maria here, who although gets to the later stages, can’t seemed to finish off the job. Both players had difficult first two games on either serve , not the confidence builder that they would have wanted. Whilst Jessica managed to hold, Maria tanked. Watch the wayward overhead smash at 1-0(adv Pegula). The thing is if you want to get over a mistake like the one Maria did in this point, you have to shut out that inner voice that curses you for the mistake. Maria did just that breaking back in the next game, albeit with some unforced errors from Jessica herself. This was an error strewn first set as there ever was. One such error happened in what is my point of teh match. Check out 3-3(adv Pegula).Pegula having led 40-0 in the game was pegged back to deuce. The defense from the American after some hard hitting forehands from Maria was superb. Always chase after lost causes you never know hey. The defining moment of the set came in the ninth game at 4-4. Maria got the hang of dealing with the Jessica KICK SERVE, that is play the returns to her backhand on the ad side. Maria running out 6-4 winner of the set.
It is always a bad sign when you are taken the deuce for most of your service games. It is equally a good sign if you plow your way out most of the time. Sakkari had 12 chances to break only converting 4. Watch first game of the second set adv Pegula. Jessica’s MO when she is in trouble on serve is to stay as long as possible in the point and wait for the opening. It worked here. Like set one, Pegula took a 2-0 lead, what a majestic lob at 1-0 advantage. Like the first set, Sakkari’s aggressive take on tennis saw her break back immediately, breaking to love.There was one more break of serve left to be had and it went the way of the sixth seeded Greek in the eleventh game. Another error strewn service game from Jessica handing it to Maria to love at 5-5. The forehands at 0-30 and 0-40 were panicked, hurried and out of control. Sakkari closing out the match for the loss of one point at 6-5. Its Gauff-Sakkari for a semi final spot in Doha.