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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday May 5, 2022

 
Pegula

Jessica Pegula and Ons Jabeur are on the cusp of a major breakthrough at Madrid.

Photo Source: Getty

A little more than two years ago, Jessica Pegula and Ons Jabeur were ranked well outside the WTA Top-50 and far from being household names in the sport. But both have steadily climbed the WTA’s ladders of success since, and they will have a chance to gain major notoriety on Saturday as they prepare to meet in Sunday’s Madrid Open final.

Tennis Express

Pegula defeated Jil Teichmann 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to reach her first WTA 1000 final; Jabeur also made her biggest final, by defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2,6-3.

At the end of a chaotic week that saw just one Top-8 seed reach the quarterfinals, it is two of the tour’s most consistently rising talents that have earned their shot at a big-time breakthrough.


Jabeur, who became the first African-born woman to ever reach a 1000-level final on Thursday, was asked if she felt she is now the best version of herself after years of personal growth.

“I do. I do feel pretty confident, pretty ready to accept any challenge right now coming,” replied the 27-year-old Tunisian.

“I have learned, like I say, I have learned a lot from my losses, and I like to challenge myself, because for me, if I put a challenge in front of me, that's how I get motivated. That's how I feel good about myself. Now I feel everything it's coming in the same line. Everything is going the same way for me. I hope I can keep playing this good. I really cannot wait to play the finals and see what's gonna happen.”


Pegula became the third American to reach the final at Madrid, putting her name next to Venus (2010) and Serena (2012, 2013) Williams in the tournament's annals.

She can make her Top-10 debut if she wins the title.

“It shows you w/ hard work, determination, playing week in and week out and just trying to get better every week, you can get to the top as long as you believe it,” Pegula said. “I think it’s great for both of us."

The pair have split four career meetings, all on hard courts, with Jabeur winning the last two, including a 6-2, 6-1 trouncing in Dubai this winter.

 

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