EASTBOURNE, England -- Jessica Pegula wasn't sure what the fuss was about. Fresh of a physical, match-point saving effort to win her first grass title at the ecotrans Ladies Open on Sunday, the World No.5 flew into London's smaller airport at Gatwick and, instead of getting picked up by a tournament car, opted to hop on the train to Eastbourne. 

"Is that weird?" Pegula asked the roundtable of reporters at the Rothesay International. 

Not at all. As one local reporter put it, it was "the sensible" choice. The bigger surprise was that Pegula made her way to Eastbourne at all. It will be her third consecutive grass event ahead of Wimbledon, which begins on Monday.

Pragmatic as ever, Pegula shrugged. What's another week of tennis after her injury-addled season of stops and starts?

Eastbourne: Scores | Schedule | Draws

"The more I can get in on the grass is better, as long as I'm feeling healthy and feeling good, which I am," Pegula said. "Even though I won last week, it was obviously a lot of tennis pushed into a couple days with the delays and stuff. 

"But I would much rather just treat this as another week to do well and get my confidence up, maybe even more for the year, just because I haven't had the smoothest start to the year. So to me, I kind of just want to hopefully, maybe take advantage of this week going into a Slam."


Pegula will test her ability to adapt against Emma Raducanu in the Round of 16 on Wednesday. Raducanu scored a 6-4, 6-0 win over Sloane Stephens in her opener and comes in with solid momentum after making the semifinals at the Rothesay Open two weeks ago. Pegula won their only previous meeting on the hard courts at 2022 Cincinnati. 

Will the change in surface shift the dynamics of their matchup? Both Pegula and Raducanu prefer a quicker hard court, but they've also built up solid grass-court bona fides. Raducanu made the Wimbledon ROund of 16 in her tournament debut three years ago. Pegula notched her best Wimbledon result last year with a run to the quarterfinals, where she lost to eventual champion Marketa Vondrousova. 

"I think for the grass, it's just reps for me," Pegula said. "I just haven't played a ton on grass [in my career]."

Champions Reel: How Jessica Pegula won Berlin 2024

In Berlin, Pegula scored wins over Donna Vekic, Katerina Siniakova, World No.2 Coco Gauff, and Anna Kalinskaya to win her first tournament since 2023 Seoul. Her win over Gauff was her first Top 10 win of the season. And it all came in just her second tournament back since skipping the European clay season to heal a rib injury. 

"It hopefully will pivot my year, kind of turn it around a little bit," Pegula said. "I obviously felt like I was playing well enough and doing well and still had decent results this year, but it never really feels true unless you win or have a really good result for it to make it seem like what I planned and scheduled worked out."

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Pegula was candid about her anxieties at the start of her comeback three weeks ago at the Libema Open. After picking up the rib injury in April, Pegula and her team opted to treat it conservatively. With concerns the injury could lead to a stress fracture, she shut down her season and made the hard decision to skip two more WTA 1000s -- she already skipped two in February -- and Roland Garros.  

It was a hard decision decision to make for the 30-year-old American, who has been a consistent workhorse over the last four seasons. But the theme of Pegula's 2024 season has been a willingness to think outside the box. In February, she split with long-time coach David Witt, a seemingly surprising decision given the duo's success. She is now guided by Mark Knowles and Mark Merklein.

"Getting a title with a different coach is always a really good confidence boost just for myself as a player," Pegula said. "Knowing that I won a title with a different coach, it doesn't have to be my old coach, like, I can play on my terms and stuff like that. 

"So I think a lot of those thoughts just kind of go away. You get solidified."