Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | @TennisNow | Sunday, June 23, 2024


Jessica Pegula fought off five championship points out-dueling Anna Kalinskaya 6-7(0), 6-4, 7-6(3) to win her maiden grass title in Berlin.

Photo credit: Inaki Esnaola/Getty

Facing five championship points in the final set, Jessica Pegula was teetering on the ledge of loss.

Dancing on the lawn, a defiant Pegula pulled off one of the most pulsating comebacks of her career.

MORE: Alcaraz Rips "Crazy" ATP Rule Change

A fearless Pegula fought off five championship points in the decider out-dueling Anna Kalinskaya 6-7(0), 6-4, 7-6(3) in a thrilling Berlin final to capture the first grass-court championship of her career.

In just the second tournament of her comeback from a neck injury, Pegula prevailed with a pair of head-turning wins today collecting her fifth career title.

First, Pegula wrapped up a 7-5, 7-6(2) semifinal win over doubles partner Coco Gauff in a match that began yesterday but was suspended due to rain.

Returning to the court for the final, Pegula fought off four championship points battling back from 15-40 down to hold for 5-all in the decider.

Two games later, Pegula was serving at 5-6 when she denied a fifth championship point to force the final tiebreaker. Flat strikes and a sharp return game are Pegula assets, but her comeback today spotlighted one of her top strengths: her toughness.

Montreal champion Pegula was down 2-3 in the tiebreaker when she elevated her game charging through five consecutive points—highlighted by a creative defensive lob that kissed the inside of the baseline—igniting an inspired comeback win in two hours, 38 minutes.

The 30-year-old Boca Raton resident joins Alison Riske-Amritraj, Sofia Kenin and Madison Keys as the fourth American woman to collect a grass-court championship since 2017.

Showing pure class in victory, Pegula exchanged a warm embrace with Kalinskaya then high-fived coach Mark Merklein before trotting over to Kalinskaya’s support box to shake hands with the Russian’s coach, former WTA standout Patricia Tarabini, saluting both for a job well done in this rousing final.

Spare a thought for Kalinskaya, who carried an impressive 7-0 record vs. Top 10 opponents—including retirement-aided wins over Wimbledon winner Marketa Vondrousova and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka this week—into her second career singles final.

Playing for her maiden WTA title, Kalinskaya came achingly close on a day in which her boyfriend, world No. 1 Jannik Sinner, defeated Hubert Hurkacz to win his first grass-court championship on the grass of Halle.

It's the second stinging finals loss of the season for Kalinskaya, who certainly won her share of fans this week playing dynamic all-court tennis. 

Last February, Australian Open quarterfinalist Kalinskaya delivered the best tournament of her life knocking off three Grand Slam champions, Top 10 players in succession—Jelena Ostapenko, Coco Gauff and world No. 1 Iga Swiatek—\to become just the second qualifier to reach a WTA 1000 final in Dubai. Jasmine Paolini reeled off 16 of the last 19 points fighting off qualifier Kalinskaya 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, in a dramatic Dubai Duty Free Championships final comeback victory.

Today, Kalinskaya came back from love-3 down in the opening set.

The WTA Finals runner-up rolled through a love break for a 5-3 first-set lead after 38 minutes of play.

Serving for the set, Pegula could not close. Kalinskaya found a groove and followed a deep drive with a short forehand slice to break back in the ninth game.

Banging back-to-back backhand winners down the line, Kalinskaya held to level after 10 games.

In the tiebreaker, Kalinskaya took her game to a place Pegula could not match.

World No. 24 Kalinskaya cranked a crosscourt forehand winner to open with the mini-break. Another backhand bolt down the line followed by a forehand winner put Kalinskaya up 5-0. Kalinskaya closed a perfect tiebreaker at love to snatch a one-set lead after 56 minutes.

The fourth-seeded American broke at 15 to start the second set and again went up a break at 3-1.

The early deficit did not faze Kalinskaya who was striking with more depth as she broke back to level after six games leaving a frustrated Pegula swiping her Yonex stick off the signage at the back of the court.

Resetting, Pegula came back to earn her fifth break of the final and edge ahead 4-3.

In a strong service game, Pegula confirmed the break at 15 with a short forehand volley to take a 5-3 lead for the second straight set.

This time, Pegula served it out at 30 yelling “come on!” after forcing a final set.

Playing catch-up in the early stages of the opening two sets, Kalinskaya flipped the script in the final set.

The 25-year–old Russian was ripping her two-hander with vigor as she broke at 30 for 3-1.

Credit Kalinskaya for roaring back from love-40 down—saving four break points in all with explosive strikes—as she held for 5-4.

Ratcheting up pressure, Kalinskaya earned four championship points in the following game, but missed a pair of drives and watched Pegula calmly swipe away two more championship points.

Shaking off the deep disappointment from failing to convert any of those championship points, Kalinskaya continued to press the issue.

Digging out a fine low forehand volley off her shoelaces, Kalinskaya held firm for 6-5 shifting pressure squarely back on Pegula’s shoulders.

Carving out a sharp-angled backhand winner, Kalinskaya came right back with a crackling forehand to earn her fifth championship point in the 12th game.

Without hesitation, Pegula pumped a serve winner down the middle to deny the fifth championship point.

Hitting behind her opponent, Pegula pounded a forehand down the line to force the decisive tiebreaker with the Berlin title on the line.

Pegula netted her second double fault, ceding the mini break, but rocked a forehand return to get the mini break back at 2-2. The pair changed ends even after six points.

On the run, Pegula played a tremendous defensive lob to push Kalinskaya back and eventually draw the error edging ahead 5-3.

Embed from Getty Images

Scattering another long forehand, Kalinskaya gave Pegula three championship points at 6-4.

When Kalinskaya netted a forehand, Pegula covered her face with her hands and seemed to pinch back tears of joy pulling off a tremendous comeback.


Latest News