MASON, Ohio -- No.8 Jessica Pegula ended Emma Raducanu's resurgent run at the Western & Southern Open, defeating the US Open champion 7-5, 6-4 in the Round of 16. The top-ranked American advanced to her fourth WTA 1000 quarterfinal of the season.
Pegula will face France's Caroline Garcia for a spot in her second straight WTA 1000 semifinal, having done so last week at the National Bank Open in Toronto.
Three takeaways on Pegula's strong performance:
Pegula's WTA 1000 mastery continues: The numbers behind Pegula's prowess at the top level of the Hologic WTA Tour grow more impressive with every event. Coming into Cincinnati, Pegula has reached the semifinal stage at three of the last four WTA 1000s, having done so in Miami and Toronto and making the final in Madrid.
Since the start of 2021, Pegula has now won 34 matches at the WTA 1000 level, two wins shy of World No.1 Iga Swiatek's tour-leading mark of 36 wins. She has now reached the quarterfinal stage a tour-leading eight times since the start of 2021, ahead of Aryna Sabalenka (6) and Paula Badosa, Coco Gauff, and Iga Swiatek, who each have five.
Showing the form that has boosted into the Top 10, Pegula diffused Raducanu's offensive baseline game by keeping the Brit on move. After an early exchange of breaks in the opening set, Pegula pulled away by breaking Raducanu for a second time to take the set. After breaking early in the third game of the second set, Pegula methodically took care of her service games to seal a clinical victory
Pegula finished the match with 21 winners to 10 unforced errors. Raducanu hit 15 winners, including seven aces, along with 21 unforced errors.
Raducanu leaves Cincinnati with a boost: Raducanu will drop out of the Top 10 on Monday. But as she winds her way towards her title defense at the US Open, her two dominant wins over Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati should give a much-needed jolt of confidence. This was just the fourth time this season that she posted back-to-back wins at a tournament and she played incredibly clean tennis to earn them.
No one is under any delusions that Williams and Azarenka were at a level anywhere close to their prime, but wins are wins. As Raducanu said herself, if there is one thing she's learned in her rookie year, it's that wins on the WTA Tour are not easy to come by. And as she continues to build on her match and tournament fitness, playing three matches in a tournament will surely help her cause.
"I mean, definitely having to beat Serena and Vika is not easy, even no matter how they played or Serena hasn't been doing as well, whatever," Pegula said. "I think handling the moment like that is really difficult. For her, she's already had success, but for her to handle that, I think it's really hard no matter what. I don't care what you say or how you are playing or whatever. To beat both of those girls back-to-back is tough."
Pegula faces a tough task: With an eye towards making back-to-back semifinals, Pegula faces a red-hot Garcia in the quarterfinals. Garcia, who came through a strong straight-set win over Elise Mertens, beat Pegula at the start of the season in Sydney.
"I think she's someone that no one really wants to play, because she hits the ball really hard, serves really well, super powerful," Pegula said. "Has big groundstrokes and kind of takes the racquet out of your hands sometimes. Hard to play when you can't get a rhythm. She's really done well the last couple of months, which is nice to see, because obviously she was at the top of the game for a while too."
"Yeah, tougher match than I think people will talk about or give credit to, but she's been playing really well. It will be a tough match."