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Kostyuk, Boulter battle way into San Diego Open final

Marta Kostyuk Marta Kostyuk - The Canadian Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Sixth-seeded Marta Kostyuk fought off an early deficit on Saturday to beat top seed Jessica Pegula 7-6(4), 6-1 and reach the final of the San Diego Open.

With the surprise comeback, Kostyuk, of Ukraine, moved into Sunday's final where she will face qualifier Katie Boulter, who bested third-seeded Emma Navarro 6-3, 6-1 in the other semifinal match.

After Pegula jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set, Kostyuk tossed her racquet in disgust twice. But she regained her composure and went on to capture the next four games, breaking Pegula’s serve to knot the score 5-5.

Kostyuk then held serve to take a 6-5 lead, before Pegula knotted matters at 6-6. In the tiebreaker, Kostyuk took advantage of several errors by Pegula to claim the first set.

By now under control and surging, Kostyuk broke Pegula’s serve to start the second set and then promptly raced to a 5-1 lead. At that point, it was Pegula who took an angry swipe at the court surface with her racquet.

With Pegula serving at match point, Kostyuk slammed Pegula's lob in triumph.

“I wasn’t really happy with the trajectory of my game,” said Kostyuk. “I kept trying to do something to change things. You know, I really don’t know the answer to what happened after that.”

In the first of Saturday’s semifinals, the unseeded Boulter continued her surprising string of upsets with her win over Navarro. Boulter’s match against Kostyuk marks her first appearance in a WTA 500 final.

Boulter took the first set after twice breaking Navarro’s serve. Played in threatening, wind-swept conditions, the match was halted shortly after the first set for 33 minutes by a sudden downpour. Just before the deluge, Boulter held serve in the opening game of the second set.

When play resumed, Boulter, of England, eased past Navarro with aggressive baseline shot-making and an onslaught of 24 winners.

“When I saw a black cloud coming, I was sort of distracted because it’s never easy coming back from a rain delay,” Boulter said. “But I was very happy with my tennis and the way it turned out.”

Boulter's road to the final includes wins over No. 28-ranked Donna Vekic of Croatia and No. 13 Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.

“Honestly, at the start of this week, I didn’t think I’d be in this position,” said Boulter, “But I’m just going to go out there and swing away.”

Navarro, who reached the event’s semifinals in late 2023 as a qualifier, admitted she was frustrated by Boulter, who lost only three points on her serve in the opening set.

“I tried to get some traction, but I just couldn’t quite execute when I wanted to get it going,” said Navarro. “She put a lot of pressure on my service and return games, so it was really tough to get any points.”

The San Diego Open is a WTA Tour 500 event with a total purse of $922,573, presented by Cymbiotika.


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