Jessica Pegula brushed off the pre-match buildup of her match against Coco Gauff as being a battle to crown the next American women’s tennis star.
Pegula is set to face her compatriot and doubles partner Coco Gauff in a mouthwatering semifinal clash at the WTA Finals on Saturday evening in Cancun, a first for both players at this tournament.
It is a massive improvement from their abject showing at last year’s event which was held on home soil in Fort Worth, Texas, where both were eliminated in the group stage. Pegula topped her group this time, winning all three round-robin matches, while Gauff finished second in hers behind Iga Swiatek.
Pegula held the distinction of USA’s No. 1 for quite a considerable amount of time in the past year and was ranked in the world’s Top 10. She was and still remains one of the most consistent players on the women’s tour. But the Buffalo native has lost the honor to 19-year-old Gauff following the conclusion of the US swing in September.
Since the final peak of Serena Williams, quite a handful of Americans have stepped in to fill the void. Even though Pegula reckons it’s impossible to make any comparisons to a woman she regards as the GOAT of tennis, the 29-year-old, however, believes Gauff has won the battle as the poster girl of American tennis.
When quizzed on whether she felt any pressure going into the semifinal match knowing what’s at stake, Pegula stated that Gauff’s US Open success has settled that debate (of the next star of American tennis), adding that she’s not going to be on tour for a lot longer than the 19-year-old who is 10 years younger and will achieve even more success in future years.
“No, I don’t because I’m 10 years older. I’m definitely not going to be playing as long as she’s going to be playing. And she’s already won the US Open, so I think she’s got that battle won. I definitely don’t think there’s competition there. Again, comparing to Serena’s a big feat. I don’t think anyone is like Serena.”
“I think Serena’s her own person. I think she’s the GOAT, or whatever you want to say. So I don’t think it’s possible to fill those shoes probably ever (smiles). But I think Coco is the present and the future. I think she’s still gonna have a long ways to grow and get better in the sport.”