Third seed Jessica Pegula overcame a sluggish start to breeze past Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (3), 6-1 on Saturday to reach the final of the Guadalajara Open.
The 28-year-old American, chasing her second career title, will await the winner between Greek fourth seed Maria Sakkari and Czech Marie Bouzkova in Sunday’s final. Pegula found herself in an early hole to the Belarusian former-world number one as Azarenka secured the early break on way to 3-0 lead.
But Pegula would soon find her rhythm, breaking back to send the set went to a tie-break which she took 7-3.
Having let the opening set slip away Azarenka unraveled while Pegula stepped up her play, breaking the two-time Australian Open champion twice as she steamrolled through the second to reach her second final of the year.
“I feel really excited, really happy about my performance today. Happy the way I hung in that first set and was still able to win it,” Pegula, who also reached the final in Madrid this year, told reporters.
“My second final this year means a lot, especially kind of the last tournament of the year to finish really strong, win or lose tomorrow, is just kind of the icing on the cake of two really good years. I’m really proud of myself.”
She will have to wait until Sunday to discover her final opponent as rain forced play to be suspended in the second semifinal after Sakkari won a tight opening set 7-5.
Pegula’s path to the final has included victories over four Grand Slam winners: a second round win over Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina followed U.S. Open champions Bianca Andreescu and Sloan Stephens and Azarenka.
But the world number five said there were still some nerves heading into the title clash.
“At the same time you’re happy to be there,” Pegula said. “You have pressure and you also don’t have pressure because when you start a tournament your goal is to get to the end and to give yourself a chance to win a title.
“When you finally make it to the last stage, you get more excited nervous. But it depends on the day. I’m sure I’ll see how I feel walking on court tomorrow, how my warm-up feels.”