Swiatek crushes Kudermetova in windy Doha to set up Pegula rematch

By Sports Desk February 17, 2023

Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula will clash in a WTA Tour final for the first time after taking wildly contrasting routes through to the Qatar Open title match.

While Pegula was taken to three sets by Maria Sakkari on Friday, world number one and defending champion Swiatek required only 56 minutes to score a 6-0 6-1 drubbing of Veronika Kudermetova.

In windy conditions in Doha, the top two seeds set up a Saturday showdown that will have plenty riding on it in terms of their rivalry.

When Swiatek lost to Pegula in early January at the United Cup in Sydney, winning only four games, the Pole was left in tears.

The rematch will either see Swiatek reassert her dominance over Pegula, or see the American show she has the 21-year-old's number for now.

Swiatek won all four matches she played against Pegula last season, with French Open and US Open quarter-finals victories among that set, but their last match has put a fresh spin on the head-to-head.

Crushing Kudermetova showed Swiatek at her ruthless best, and the world number one said: "I feel great. I was pretty worried how I was going to cope with the conditions today so I'm glad I played a smart way and I'm pretty happy I was so solid."

She is relishing the chance to test herself against Pegula again, saying: "It always takes a lot to win against Jessie. She's a great player, a really solid one, and we'll see, honestly. I'm not going to predict anything or over-analyse, I'll just play my best tennis."

Pegula overcame Greek fifth seed Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-1 in the first semi-final.

While Swiatek will be chasing a 12th WTA-level singles title, the 28-year-old Pegula is after a third such trophy.

Speaking of the Sakkari match, Pegula said: "That was probably the hardest conditions I've ever had to play in, wind-wise. I played very smart."

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    The 32-year-old admitted her career would have been over had the four-year ban been upheld but she remained positive the appeal against it would go her way.

    “My parents always taught me that good always prevails,” she said.

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    Elsewhere, Venus Williams, 43, remains without a win since last August after a 6-3 6-3 defeat by Russian Diana Shnaider, who is 24 years her junior.

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