Early to bed, early to rise: Jabeur beats Pegula in Chicago

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CHICAGO (AP)Ons Jabeur was hardly thrilled about needing to wake up at 5:30 a.m. Thursday ahead of her 9 a.m. match and got off to a slow start before reaching the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic quarterfinals by coming back to beat Jessica Pegula 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The sixth-seeded Jabeur advanced to face No. 1 seed Elina Svitolina, who defeated Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 6-3.

”Last time I woke up at 5:30 was probably for preseason (training) or to take a flight, not to play a match,” said Jabeur, a 27-year-old Tunisian who is ranked a career-best No. 16 this week. ”But I can’t complain much.”

She said she tried to do everything an hour or so earlier than usual, such as eating and going to bed; she was ready to sleep at about 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

”Starting against Jessica is not easy, anyway – 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. is never easy,” Jabeur said. ”So I’m glad that I got the rhythm later.”

Her 42 tour wins in 2021 are second only to No. 2-ranked Aryna Sabalenka’s 43.

Other seeded women reaching the quarterfinals at the hard-court tournament included No. 2 Garbine Muguruza – the two-time Grand Slam champion moved on when two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka pulled out before their match was supposed to begin – No. 3 Belinda Bencic, No. 5 Elena Rybakina and No. 10 Danielle Collins. But No. 16 Jil Teichmann lost 6-4, 6-3 to unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up.

No reason was immediately given for Azarenka’s withdrawal from the tournament. Muguruza next meets qualifier Mai Hontama, a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 winner against Shelby Rogers

Bencic beat Tereza Martincova 6-2, 7-6 (5), Rybakina got past No. 12 Veronika Kudermetova 7-6 (4), 7-5, and Collins defeated No. 7 Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-4. Mertens had her upper left leg wrapped by a trainer after taking a medical timeout early in the second set.

Bencic faces Rybakina, while Collins takes on Vondrousova.

Jabeur entered Thursday’s match with a 0-2 career record against the ninth-seeded Pegula. That included a loss at Montreal in August when Jabeur served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, got broken and ended up losing in three.

That match was on Jabeur’s mind this time, including when she served for the victory at 5-3 in the third set. She went up 40-love but got too defensive, Jabeur acknowledged afterward, and the first three match points disappeared, two on forehand winners by Pegula.

Jabeur then needed to save a pair of break points before closing things out with an ace and a service winner to reach her sixth quarterfinal of the season, including at Wimbledon in July.

”I am happy,” Jabeur said, ”that the same scenario that happened in Montreal did not repeat itself today.”

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