Thursday wrap: Pegula mounts stunning comeback; Bencic, Jabeur, Keys win, too

Thursday wrap: Pegula mounts stunning comeback; Bencic, Jabeur, Keys win, too

Having lost 10 games in a row and down 4-0 in the third set, top seed Jessica Pegula just wanted to stop her skid.

She did that – and then so much more – mounting a comeback for the ages in the third round of the Credit One Charleston Open on Thursday afternoon against Irina-Camelia Begu to win 7-5 4-6 6-4 to book her first-ever appearance in the quarterfinals here.

“That’s the beauty of tennis: It’s never over until it’s over,” Pegula said on Tennis Channel, having led by a set and 4-0 in the second. “I’ve had some crazy matches this year, but that, the swings back and forth – that was insane.”

Pegula will meet former world No. 2 Paula Badosa, who won the opening match of the day on Credit One Stadium court.

Updated draws & schedule

Bencic halts Rogers' run

Badosa beat 19-year-old Diana Shnaider 6-1 6-3 to become the first WTA player to book her spot in the final eight on a day, before Ons Jabeur, last year’s runner-up, withstood a tough challenge from Caroline Dolehide to win 6-3 7-5.

Defending champion Belinda Bencic ended the dream run of Mt. Pleasant native Shelby Rogers, launching her own comeback after dropping the first set and facing a close second set, as well. Bencic won 4-6 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 43 minutes.

In the final singles match of the day, 2019 champ Madison Keys rebounded after dropping the second set to advance past Magda Linette 6-2 3-6 6-1, marking her first time in the final eight since her tournament win four years ago.

Here’s what else is unfolding in Daniel Island:

  • Jabeur, No. 2 seed, rallied from a break down in the second to win and move to 8-3 lifetime at this event
  • No. 3 seed and 2017 winner Daria Kasatkina has yet to drop a set this week as she beat another American in lefty Bernarda Pera, 6-3 7-6(3). This year marks her return to Daniel Island for the first time since 2018
  • Victoria Azarenka, playing here for the first time in 13 years, drew a packed crowd to the Althea Gibson Club Court in the opening match there, taking on world No. 70 Anna Kalinskaya. While Azarenka had her No. 6 seeding on her side, Kalinskaya was unrelenting, winning 6-4 7-6(5) after failing to close out the second set on her own serve.
  • No. 7 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, the world No. 17, has joined the elite eight club, too, rallying from a 1-3 deficit in the first to win 11 of the final 14 games over Julia Grabher, 6-4 6-2. She will face Bencic in the last eight after recently beating the Swiss star in Miami. They are 3-3 head-to-head

Badosa: ‘I feel very comfortable’ here

Having struggled with a variety of injuries and dropped from world No. 2 at this time last year to a current ranking of 33, Badosa arrived in Lowcountry searching for match wins, saying she felt like she was close to her best level again.

“Especially here, I like this court, I like this stadium,” Badosa told reporters. “I feel very comfortable with the fans [here], and I just enjoy playing here. Maybe this year was a little bit tougher for me because I wasn’t coming with a lot of matches, and it’s not the same as last year that I was maybe more favorite. So for me being, again, in quarterfinals… it’s special.”

Jabeur: ‘Tennis is about digging deep’

It’s been a stop-start beginning to 2023 for Jabeur, who was just 4-4 in eight matches played and missing all of February due to a minor knee surgery. The two wins in a row have helped her find her next gear, she said, and she credits her approach to the work she’s done with her mental coach, Melanie Mallaird.

“Tennis is all about digging deep and being patient,” the Tunisian said after her win. “|Sometimes you’re doing everything perfect but it’s just not coming… you’re working hard, doing everything in training but don’t get the win[s]. I’m doing the necessary work outside the court [and] these two matches are a reward for where I should be.”

On Tennis Channel, Jabeur nodded to the way she’s able to find her best tennis on Daniel Island: “My season starts in Charleston.”

It’s a first-ever quarterfinal on clay for Kalinskaya, who is 24 years old. She’ll meet Jabeur for a spot in the final four, with Jabeur leading their head-to-head 1-0 (Indian Wells 2021)