Washington Open: Americans Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz Fall in Semi-final Defeats
Washington Open: Americans Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz Fall in Semi-final Defeats
Jessica Pegula lost to Maria Sakkari and Taylor Fritz was defeated by Tallon Griekspoor in the semifinal at Washington Open.

Americans Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz suffered semifinal defeats at the Washington Open on Saturday but Coco Gauff kept the star spangled banner flying earning her place in Sunday’s final.

Greek fourth seed Maria Sakkari upset top seed Pegula to capture her third victory in 26 hours and she will face another home favorite in the final after Gauff defeated Russian Liudmila Samsanova, the defending champion, in straight sets.

Fritz fell to Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands in three sets. The Dutchman will play either Britain’s Dan Evans or Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

Ninth-ranked Sakkari, forced to play twice Friday due to rain on Thursday at the WTA and ATP hard court event, reached her first final since losing to Pegula last October at Guadalajara.

“It would have been ideal if I could be off the court an hour earlier,” Sakkari said. “But at the end I got the win which is what I wanted the most.”

Sakkari, who reached her seventh career final, won her only WTA title in 2019 at Rabat.

Pegula, the 2019 Washington champion, was denied her fifth career final but will match her career high of third in the world rankings next week.

Sakkari improved to 5-3 in her career rivalry with Pegula, who won their most recent prior meeting in February’s Doha semifinals.

Sakkari dominated the first set and went up 4-1 in the second but Pegula broke Sakkari in the seventh game and held to pull level at 4-4.

A double fault handed Pegula a break chance in the ninth game and Sakkari swatted a forehand wide for a 5-4 edge. The American then held to force a third set.

“Things were tricky in the second set,” Sakkari said. “In the third, I just tried to stay in the present. I tried to overcome myself and take it as a new challenge.”

Sakkari broke early in the third set and again in the final game on a backhand winner to advance after two hours and three minutes.

Sakkari hit 36 winners compared to 29 unforced errors and for 14 of 19 points when she came to the net.

Third-seeded Gauff was in dominant form as she won the opening set against Samsonova without facing a break point.

She then took a 2-1 lead in the second set, winning her fifth break point of a marathon game with a volley winner before going on to complete a 6-3, 6-3 win and reach her second final of the year.

“She’s a server and she has an amazing forehand so I wanted to see how I would do upon that battle and I think I did pretty well,” said Gauff.

Gauff has lost four of her five meetings with Sakkari but says she has learnt from those losses.

“She’s an incredible player. She’s been the top of the game for a long time and it’s going to be a difficult match,” she said.

“You live and you learn. So hopefully I can learn from (the defeats) and come back better (on Sunday),” she added.

Fritz, the highest-ranked American at number nine in the world, won the first set 6-3 after grabbing a break in the second game of the match.

But 12th seed Griekspoor fought, breaking when he was 4-3 up and went on to win 6-3 to force the third set.

The third set was a close fought encounter until Griekspoor made the most of Fritz’s errors to break in the fifth and then the American lost on his next service game as the Dutchman won the last five games, with 20 of the 27 points, to clinch a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win.

It was Griekspoor’s first win against a top ten opponent and he now has a chance for his third title of the season.

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