QUEBEC CITY, Canada -- American qualifier Jessica Pegula knocked out the highest-remaining seed at the Coupe Banque Nationale présentée par IGA on Friday, dispatching No.2 seed Petra Martic of Croatia, 6-3, 7-5, to advance to the semifinals.
"I’ve been having really good results the last few months, so I feel confident," Pegula told the press, after the match. "I’ve done really well here a couple times, so that kind of helps, that I like the courts," added Pegula, who bested her quarterfinal showing at the 2016 edition of the tournament.
World No.227 Pegula had lost her two prior encounters with Martic, but her aggressive play on the speedy indoor courts in Quebec City carried her through to a big upset of of the World No.38 after one hour and 25 minutes of play.
Pegula won a staggering 41 of 48 first-service points (85 percent) during the match. Meanwhile, Martic saw her seven-match winning streak, which included winning the WTA 125K Series event in Chicago last week for her biggest career title, come to a close.
"I knew [Martic] was going to come out playing well," said Pegula. "She came out serving really well in the first game."
"I think these courts work really well for someone who’s serving well," Pegula continued. "A lot of matches this week, I’d be playing really well, and I’d be tied or down a break just because of one bad game and they’re serving really well. So it’s something where you just have to keep your head straight, and keep the attitude good, and keep trying to plug away at the service games."
Next up for 24-year-old Pegula will be a semifinal showdown with the winner of the quarterfinal match between 2016 Olympic champion Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, seeded 3rd, and American teenager Sofia Kenin, the No.5 seed.
Both women held their serve routinely until 3-2, where Pegula fired two passing shot winners during the game to obtain the first break point of the match for either player. Martic faltered, hitting a double fault to hand over her service game and a 4-2 lead to the American.
That would be the only break Pegula would need to race to the one-set lead behind her strong serving and aggressive play at the baseline, holding for 6-3 after Martic blasted a service return long on the American’s second set point.
In the first set, Martic and Pegula each lost only two points on their first serves and won five out of nine points on their second serves, but Pegula converting the sole break point made the difference.
Martic started the second set strongly, breaking Pegula for a 2-0 lead on the fourth break point of a protracted game, and putting down a dominant hold to reach 3-0. But the passing shots of Pegula continued to be on fire, and the American whizzed a forehand crosscourt to break for 3-2, getting back on serve.
Each player fended off one break point up to a 5-5 deadlock before Pegula reached break point in that game with another forehand passing shot. There, the qualifier blasted a forehand to force a wide error from Martic and go up 6-5, to serve for the upset.
In the following game, big serving by the American brought up double match point, and though Martic saved the first with a backhand winner, Pegula converted the second with her third ace of the match, and skipped into the semifinals.