Pegula edges Azarenka, makes Charleston semis


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Top-seeded Jessica Pegula saved four match points in a third-set tiebreaker and beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7) Friday to reach the Charleston Open semifinals.

Pegula squandered four match points of her own, up 5-4 in the final set against Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion. But tied 7-7 in the tiebreaker, Azarenka missed wide with Pegula at the net, then pushed a service return long.

“I was playing well today, but you know what? Stuff happens and you’ve got to figure it out,” Pegula said. “And I was able to figure it today and I’m just going to use that feeling, that confidence.”

The fifth-ranked Pegula also reached the semifinals in Charleston last year but lost to Belinda Bencic.

Pegula will play Daria Kasatkina on Saturday for a spot in the final. The 11th-ranked Kasatkina defeated Jaqueline Cristian 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3.

In the other two quarterfinal matches, Elise Mertens will face Danielle Collins, and 2021 Charleston winner Veronika Kudermetova will play seventh-ranked Maria Sakkari.

It was in Charleston on the green clay that Kasatkina, then 19, won her first WTA Tour title in 2017. She has added five more singles titles since, though none since 2022.

Kasatkina said Cristian’s play and the windy conditions were difficult to contend with early on.

“Honestly, I was ready to go home,” Kasatkina said. “I had to find the ways to win points, which was very tough. I was very proud of myself.”

Kasatkina improved to 17-3 at the Charleston Open, making the semifinals for the second straight year. She lost to eventual champion Ons Jabeur a year ago.

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