Jessica Pegula had momentum heading into 2023. A career-best 2022 saw the American reach three Grand Slam quarterfinals and win a maiden WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara. Was she able to better those achievements? This article provides the highs and lows of Pegula’s 2023 season.
Jessica Pegula 2023 Season Review
Pegula reached the biggest final of her career at the WTA Finals. There was much attention surrounding the difficult playing conditions in Cancun for the event, but the 29-year-old adapted immediately. She won all her group-stage matches, defeating Maria Sakkari, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elena Rybakina in straight sets. This was followed by a demolition of her doubles partner and US Open champion Coco Gauff 6-2 6-1 in the semifinal. Unfortunately for Pegula, she was unable to replicate that form in the final against Iga Swiatek.
Pegula’s biggest title of 2023 came at the WTA 1000 event in Montreal. She won a tight contest against doubles partner Gauff 6-2 5-7 7-5 in the quarterfinal. This was followed by another battling victory against world No. 1 Swiatek, with the semifinal finishing 6-2 6-7 6-4. Pegula then easily defeated Liudmila Samsonova 6-1 6-0, who was visibly exhausted after a very late finish to her semifinal win.
The current American No. 2 made two Grand Slam quarterfinals in 2023. At the Australian Open, 2021 French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova was one of those beaten by Pegula en route to the quarterfinal, but Victoria Azarenka then stopped Pegula’s run. At Wimbledon, the two-time WTA 1000 champion only dropped one set on her journey to the quarterfinal. However, the eventual champion at SW19, Marketa Vondrousova, won a close quarterfinal in three sets.
The six-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist reached three other finals in 2023. She won the title at the Korea Open, with a 6-2 6-3 final triumph against Yuan Yue. The 29-year-old also progressed to the final in Qatar, yet she got thwarted in the final once again by Swiatek. Finally, Pegula had a run to the final in Tokyo but lost out to Veronika Kudermetova.
Pegula will likely be most frustrated by failing to make a bigger breakthrough at a Grand Slam in 2023. The American’s six quarterfinals is an impressive achievement, but she is yet to take a step further. Her Wimbledon loss against Vondrousova will hurt in particular, since the American led 4-1 in the deciding set before losing five consecutive games.
Pegula may also have some regrets about her performance in the final of the WTA Finals. In truth, Swiatek was always going to be difficult to stop in the form she was in. Yet, the four-time WTA title winner played far below her best, and succumbed to a heavy 1-6 0-6 loss. The Montreal champion never gave herself a chance against someone of Swiatek’s quality with the level she produced.
Overall, 2023 was a positive year for Pegula, and one she should be proud of. Failing to progress past the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam will be a source of angst. However, Pegula ended the year as the World No. 5, won multiple titles in the same season for the first time, and had her highest win percentage in a season. Those are great achievements for a player who had never been past the first round of a Grand Slam until the 2020 US Open. Expect Pegula to perform strongly once again in 2024.
Main Photo Credit: Jerry Lai – USA TODAY Sports