Madrid Open: Jessica Pegula continues stunning rise with shot at world top 10

USA's Jessica Pegula celebrates

Jessica Pegula will feature in the biggest final of her tennis career on Saturday when she challenges Ons Jabeur for the Madrid Open title.

The US star, who is the number 12 seed in the tournament, has reached just three other finals before now, but this will be the first time she will play in the last round of a WTA 1000 event.

If she is victorious against her Tunisian opponent on Saturday, Pegula will break into the world top ten for the first time.

The 28-year-old has steadily climbed the WTA rankings over the last 18 months.

She was 63rd in the world in January 2021 but reached 18th by the end of the year, having progressed to a number of quarter and semi-finals. Victories came against the likes of Elina Svitolina, Naomi Osaka, and Aryna Sabalenka.

Pegula enjoyed a strong run in the Australian Open earlier this year, reaching the quarter-final where she was knocked out by eventual champion Ashleigh Barty. She also made it to the semi-final of the Miami Open, losing out to world number one Iga Swiatek.

Jessica Pegula of United States returns a shot to Sloane Stephens of United States during the 2022 Miami Open presented by Itaú at Hard Rock Stadium on March 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Now, ranked 14th in the world, Pegula is pushing for her next career high. If she can chalk up one final win at the Madrid Open, she will reach the WTA top ten for the first time and secure the biggest win of her career yet.

Pegula has just one singles career title to her name so far. In 2019, she beat Camila Giorgi to win the Washington Open, a WTA 250 event. She has been chasing her second title since, and Saturday could be her chance to add another trophy to her cabinet.

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Madrid Open form

Pegula faced former rival Giorgi in her first match at the Madrid Open, working hard to beat the Italian 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

She followed up with straight sets wins over Kaia Kanepi, Bianca Andreescu, and Sara Sorribes Tormo before defeating Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann 6-3, 6-4 to earn her spot in the final.

Jabeur, who is also set to make her WTA 1000 final debut, awaits Pegula. The Tunisian is ranked tenth in the world and put in solid performances over the likes of Belinda Bencic and Simona Halep to reach the semi-final against Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia plays a backhand in her match against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during day four of the Sydney Tennis Classic at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre on January 12, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Jabeur breezed past her opponent with a 6-2, 6-3 win. She also has just the one singles career title, so the clash between the two WTA 1000 final newcomers is highly significant.

The Madrid Open final will get underway at the Manolo Santana Stadium at 17.30 GMT on Saturday.

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