World No.4 Jessica Pegula advanced to the Toray Pan Pacific Open final after defeating No.6 Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 in Saturday's semifinals. Pegula's victory boosted her into a fourth final this season and ended Sakkari's seven match win streak, which began with the Greek's title run in Guadalajara.
The victory is Pegula's 33rd hard-court win of the season, tying her for the most on tour alongside her doubles partner Coco Gauff.
Bidding to win her second title of the season, Pegula will face No.8 seed Veronika Kudermetova in Sunday's final. Kudermetova endured a marathon match to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6(6), 6-7(2), 6-3 in over three hours and advance to her second final of the season.
Entering the match, Sakkari held a 5-3 lead in the head-to-head, most recently defeating Pegula en route to the Washington D.C. final in August.
In their ninth career meeting, Pegula took control from the start of the match and did not relinquish her advantage. Pegula finished the match with 21 winners to Sakkari's nine and broke serve on five of her eight break point chances.
"When you're top-ranked, I think it just depends on how you play that day and how you execute your game plan, and some days it's better than others," Pegula said. "I think the faster courts here probably help me a little more than the slower surfaces I've played her in the past, so I tried to take advantage of that."
In the earlier semifinal, Kudermetova fought past Pavlyuchenkova in a tightly contested 3-hour and 25-minute duel to make her first hard-court final since 2022 Dubai. Entering the match, the duo had split their previous four meetings, with Kudermetova winning their last at 2021 Dubai.
Pavlyuchenkova was bidding to advance to her third Tokyo final, having finished runner-up in 2017 and 2019, and her first final since 2021 Roland Garros. She had five chances to close out the opening set, but Kudermetova wiped away her set-point chances to steal the set in a tiebreak.
Coming off her confidence-boosting upset win over World No.2 Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals, Kudermetova did not flinch despite being taken to a deciding set. She improved her three-set record in 2023 to 14-5 by breaking Pavlyuchenkova for a 4-3 lead with a clean return winner.
Pavlyuchenkova made one more push to put the match back on even terms, saving four match points in the final game before Kudermetova finally closed out the win.
Sunday will see the second meeting of the season between Pegula and Kudermetova, with the World No.19 besting the American in three sets on the clay of Madrid.