Boulter To Face Kostyuk For San Diego Open Title

Katie Boulter (photo: Lexie Wanninger)

SAN DIEGO, March 3, 2024 (by Richard Osborne)

Sixth seed Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and British No. 1 Katie Boulter will play for the 2024 Cymbiotika San Diego Open title after a day of semifinal upsets at Barnes Tennis Center.Kostyuk stunned top seed Jessica Pegula, 7-6(4), 6-1, while Boulter upended third seed Emma Navarro, 6-3, 6-1, extinguishing any home hopes of an all-American title tilt. Both players will be contesting their first final at the WTA 500 level.The No. 5-ranked Pegula looked to be in control early on, racing out to a 5-1 advantage in the opening set. However, her 21-year-old opponent would reel off five unanswered games to force a tiebreak and snatch the momentum for good.It marked Kostyuk’s first win over Pegula in three career head-to-heads, and surely stands as her most high-profile result to date.

“I lost to Jess in our previous match very easily [6-0, 6-2 in the third round of the 2023 Australian Open]. I was very disappointed it was going in that same direction,” said the 34th-ranked Kostyuk, who finished with 26 winners to 23 unforced errors, including nine double faults. “I don’t even know how I turned this around.”Pegula, 30, was playing her first tournament since the Australian Open, having withdrawn from Doha and Dubai with a neck injury. Saturday’s loss will leave her and newly-hired coaches Mark Knowles and Mark Merklein looking for answers as they head to their next tournament, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. You had to turn back the clock to 2018 to find the last time a British player reached the semifinal of a WTA 500 event (Johanna Konta, Moscow). But Boulter sure looked comfortable in Barnes Stadium on Day 6, where she simply overpowered Navarro. She would win 87 percent of her first-serve points (21 of 24) and save both break-points she faced in the rain-interrupted, one-hour, 14-minute contest.Boulter, 27, has now taken down two of the top three seeds in San Diego, having come from a set down to beat second seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in Round 2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“Honestly, at the start of the week, I didn’t think I’d be in this position,” said Boulter, now 6-1 against seeded opponents on the year. “I’ve been working so hard with my team. Just to be here in this position, I’m very grateful. All the hard work I’ve been doing has been paying off.”