By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
American Jessica Pegula and Camila Giorgi of Italy have both secured their spots in Sunday afternoon’s Citi Open final on Stadium Court.
Pegula will be competing in her second career WTA final after she outlasted Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in Saturday’s first semifinal.
With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees Saturday afternoon, Pegula and Kalinskaya took a 10-minute break due to excessive heat after splitting the first two sets. The breather seemed to spark Pegula, who cruised in the third set firing four of her nine aces and winning all 12 of her first service points.
“Maybe today with the nerves and stuff, it kind of felt a little more draining to me,” Pegula said after the match. “But yeah, [the break] definitely helped. I was able to go in and reset, put some ice bags on me and kind of refocus and come out strong.”
The 25-year-old will be vying for her first career WTA singles title, after falling in her only prior finals appearance (Quebec City; 2018).
The quest for that elusive first title has been a long and winding road for Pegula who underwent knee surgery in 2014, dealt with a serious leg injury in 2016 and had hip surgery in 2017.
Healthy for the most part the past two seasons, Pegula is set to crack the Top 70 for the first time in her career when the latest rankings are released on Monday. For perspective, she was as low as No.624 in January 2018.
“Right now,” Pegula said, “it just feels like I’m hitting the stride that maybe I could have hit a few years ago.”
Giorgi has also hit her stride this week in D.C. The 27-year-old Italian ended wild card Caty McNally’s dream run with a 7-6, 6-2 win in Saturday’s second semifinal.
Giorgi missed three months this year with a wrist injury and the former world No.26 arrived in Washington with just three Tour wins on the year. Her triumph Saturday over McNally, though, was her fourth win this week.
“It’s not easy to start from zero,” she explained on Tennis Channel. “Three months is a lot. It never happened to me like this [to be out] for so many months. But after these three months, after Wimbledon, I practiced a lot and after that it’s been good.”
Giorgi, who is making her fourth career Citi Open appearance, will be seeking her third career WTA title.