Kudermetova overcomes Pegula in Madrid to make first WTA 1000 semifinal

Veronika Kudermetova, the No.12 seed, defeated No.3 seed Jessica Pegula at the Mutua Madrid Open to reach the semi-finals. Kudermetova, aged 26, had never previously reached this stage of a WTA 1000 level tournament. It was also her third semi-final appearance in 2023, following Adelaide 2 and Doha. Her victory was notable as she had entered the tournament on a four-match losing streak and had rallied after losing the second set 0-6 after a medical timeout. Kudermetova has won seven career Top 5 games, the latest being against Ons Jabeur in the San Jose semi-finals in August 2022.

Kudermetova’s victory contained two near-identical sets of five breaks of serve each, with the opponents’ returns more potent than their serving. Kudermetova had twice managed a break in the first set, only to be pegged back each time, before ultimately using the momentum of capturing Pegula’s serve for the third time to win the set. After losing the second set 0-6, Kudermetova eventually triumphed in the third set, by once more capitalising on breaking Pegula’s serve. Kudermetova has now won four straight three-setters at the Madrid Open.

In reaction, Kudermetova expressed “happiness and pride” in herself at victory, given her string of three-set battles, and commented that she played well in the first set with smart shot-making and rallying. She reflected on the pivotal moment where she had to reassess her play in the third set, noting that she urged herself to “try to do something because if you continue to play like this you will lose for sure. You need to start to play a little bit more aggressive”. Kudermetova will now go on to play either Maria Sakkari or Cori Gauff in the semi-finals.

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