Jun 7, 2021; Paris, France; Ons Jabeur (TUN) in action during her match against Coco Gauff (USA) on day nine of the French Open at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
- The Madrid Open final will be the first WTA 1000 final for both Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula
- Both won their semifinals convincingly, in straight sets on Thursday
- Jabeur is the favorite; we break down the match and look for value
Given the Madrid Open field had every player at the top of the game with the exception of late withdrawal Iga Swiatek, it tells you much about the unpredictability of the results this week that No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur and the No. 12 seed Jessica Pegula ended up the last two women standing.
Jabeur, despite her clay-court prowess, was well down the list of favorites before the start of the event.
Pegula wasn’t even a consideration.
Pegula vs Jabeur Odds
| Jessica Pegula (USA)||+3.5 (-115)||+165||O 20.5 (-133)|
| Ons Jabeur (TUN)||-3.5 (-118)||-200||U 20.5 (-105)|
Odds as of May 6 at Caesars Sportsbook
Routine Victories for Both in Madrid Semis
Neither Jabeur nor Pegula had much trouble getting through their semifinal matches.
In part, of course, that’s because the upset-ridden tournament offered up qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova to Jabeur and unseeded Jil Teichmann to Pegula.
Pegula’s schedule has been a lot more taxing. It was 11:30 pm before she and Teichmann took the court Thursday night. And the late-night scheduling has meant that Pegula and Coco Gauff’s doubles progress was stalled.
She had to get up early Friday morning for a 1 pm quarterfinal match, with a semifinal match to follow if they were victorious.
In the end, Pegula and Gauff were beaten in a match tiebreak, giving Pegula a little more time to reload for Saturday’s final.
The odds and props for Jabeur against Pegula (who is No. 14 in the world) are eerily similar to those posted for her match against Alexandrova, who was a qualifier ranked 30 spots lower.
Hard to tell if that was an excess of respect for Alexandrova or not enough for Pegula.
Career Highs at Stake for Both
Jabeur has already risen from No. 10 to No. 8 with her effort in Madrid. If she wins, she’ll tie her career-high of No. 7.
For Pegula, the stakes are even higher.
Already guaranteed a career-high ranking of No. 11 next Monday, she would leap into the top 10 for the first time in her career with the title, checking in at No. 9.
One of the intangibles in this matchup will be the ability of both, either or neither of them to conquer their nerves, on a big stage and with so much to play for.
The fact that they are 27 and 28 isn’t much help; late bloomers both, they are both in uncharted territory.
Pegula vs Jabeur Head-to-Head
|28 (Feb. 24, 1994)||Age||27 (Aug. 28, 1994)|
|Buffalo, NY||Birthplace||Ksar El Hellar, Tunisia|
|1||Career WTA Singles Titles||1|
|No. 13 (April 4, 2022)||Career High Ranking||No. 7 (Nov. 1, 2021)|
|No. 14||Current Ranking||No. 10|
|$3,586,705||Career Prize Money||$4,521,545|
|18-9||2022 Won/Loss record||19-7|
|2||Career Head to Head||2|
Jabeur the Winner in Last Two Encounters
The two have met four times, with Pegula winning the first two and Jabeur winning the most recent two.
For the most part, the results have mirrored the player’s form in that particular week, so it’s hard to draw definitive conclusions.
Pegula vs Jabeur Match History
|2022||Dubai (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-3, 6-1||Jabeur|
|2021||Chicago 500 (R16)||Outdoor Hard||1-6, 6-2, 6-3||Jabeur|
|2021||Montreal (QF)||Outdoor Hard||1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0||Pegula|
|2018||Quebec City (R16)||Indoor Carpet||7-6 (3), 6-4||Pegula|
Clay Savvy Should Prevail
It’s a mistake to underestimate Pegula – especially these days, as many have discovered to their dismay.
Despite the similarity in the numbers from the Alexandrova match, it’s a near-certainty – barring nerves – that Pegula will give Jabeur more of a battle.
Their match last summer in Montreal, where Jabeur led 6-1, 5-4, 30-love – and Pegula came back and won is a perfect example.
Jabeur has had some disappointments in finals – notably in Charleston last month versus Belinda Bencic. If that fear of a repeat is rolling around her tennis brain, her opponent is too good for her to not play her best.
It also feels like the longer it goes, the more her belief might waver and the more Pegula’s belief might grow.
If it goes three sets, the balance might well shift to Pegula (+450).
Best Bet: Jabeur in Two Sets (+110)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.