"When it seems like all hope is lost, there's always a chance," the Doha tournament interviewer told Jessica Pegula shortly after 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 comeback win over Jelena Ostapenko. Pegula's smiling nod (watch on the video above) validated that statement as much as the American's late-match play.

It didn't appear that Pegula would need reason to discover hope after a routine opening set, her first since reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals (her fourth elite eight showing in her last five majors). But single-set deficits don't tend to faze a Grand Slam champion, which Ostapenko was six years ago, nor do they give pause to a go-for-broke power player, which Ostapenko has been throughout her career. The Latvian turned the match around with a 6-2 response, as Pegula won just eight of 14 first-serve points (57.1%) in the second set.

When Ostapenko's momentum carried her to a 5-2 lead in the third set, you could forgive Pegula if she was fazed. The Buffalo native earned one break back, but then found herself facing two match points at 4-5.

"The beauty about tennis is there's no time limit," Pegula said afterward. "There's always a chance."




Ostapenko kept returning serve hard and deep, and continued to apply pressure in this pivotal game. But with her back against the wall, Pegula did the same. Rather than letting doubt creep in, Pegula saved both match points—then continued her five-game run to take the match.

Pegula ended up winning a lower percentage of first-serve points in the third set—14 of 25, 56%—than she did in the second, but it was her play on the biggest, most pressure-filled points that made the difference.

"I just tried to serve a little bit smarter, maybe got a little lucky," Pegula said with a shrug. "I don't know."


This was also Pegula's first match since her powerful and bravely written essay on The Players' Tribune which revealed that her mother, Kim, had suffered cardiac arrest last year. For Jessica to be the one to tell the world this news speaks to the strength she possesses. We should look back at Pegula's 2022 season—a career best, but with some near-misses on the biggest stages—differently now, and perhaps her 2023 season should be assessed in a new light.

Today, that light was unquestionably positive, and considering what this 28-year-old has endured recently, that's a very good thing.

"Is your mom watching right now?" asked the interviewer. "It's a little after 11 o'clock in Buffalo."

"She might be, actually," said Pegula. "She probably would have been having a heart attack watching."

Leave it to Pegula to find some humor in the situation, and to find a way to win today.