Kudermetova wins Toray Pan Pacific Open for second career title

Russia's Veronika Kudermetova returns to Estonia's Kaia Kanepi during their first round women's singles match on day one of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Monday, July 3, 2023. (Kin Cheung/AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Veronika Kudermetova upset second-seeded Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-1 to claim the Toray Pan Pacific Open and a second career title on Sunday.

The Russian’s triumph in Tokyo ends a four-match losing streak in finals since her maiden title on clay at Charlestown in 2021. It was also her second win over a top-five opponent this week, after beating second-ranked Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals.

“I’m really happy because before, it was not an easy time for me, it was really tough moments,” said Kudermetova, who will next compete at the China Open. “Now I’m really happy and I have a lot of motivation for the next weeks.”

The eighth-seeded Kudermetova had a fast start Sunday racing to a 3-0 lead on the back of winning ten consecutive points. Pegula, who had dropped only nine games in three matches coming into the final, fought her way back on serve. But the American undid the rally by making back-to-back double faults to give up the first set.

“Jessica is a great player, she’s a great fighter, and I prepared myself for the fight,” the Russian said. “When it was 5-5 in the first set, I just said to myself, `Veronika, you just need to fight, you just need to do everything that you can,’ and I did.”

The 26-year-old’s powerful ground strokes began to tell in the second set as she broke Pegula twice to race to victory in one hour and 24 minutes.

In the doubles final, Ingrid Neel and Ulrikke Eikeri beat Japanese pair Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya 3-6, 7-5, 10-5.

At the Astana Open, fifth-seeded Sebastian Korda advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over top-seeded Tallon Griekspoor.

The American will play wildcard Hamad Medjedovic in the semifinals. The 20-year-old Serbian earlier downed fourth-seeded Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 6-4 to make his second career semifinal.

Sixth-seeded Adrian Mannarino beat qualifier Jurij Rodionov 6-1, 7-6 (6) to set up a meeting with Sebastian Ofner, who beat Austrian compatriot Dominic Thiem 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, in Monday’s semifinals.

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