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Flawless Kudermetova dismantles Pegula to claim Tokyo title

Eighth seed Veronika Kudermetova claimed her first title of the season and second overall with a comprehensive 7-5 6-1 win over world number four Jessica Pegula in the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo on Sunday.

An aggressive Kudermetova wasted little time unleashing her powerful shots from the baseline and broke American Pegula early for a 3-0 lead, but she dropped her own serve in the fifth game before allowing her opponent to draw level in the first set.

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An untimely double fault from Pegula gifted Kudermetova the first set, and the Russian world number 19 raised her intensity again in the next set as she raced ahead 5-1 before closing out the contest on her third matchpoint with a big serve.

It was Kudermetova's second win over Pegula this season - following her victory in the Madrid quarter-finals - and a fifth win in her last six matches against top-10 opponents.

The 26-year-old had battled past world number two Iga Swiatek earlier in the tournament.

"I'm really happy about my performance today. It's my second title and I'm proud of myself," said Kudermetova, whose previous title was also a WTA 500 crown at Charleston in 2021.

"I prepared myself for a tough match as Jessica is a great player and a great fighter... It's always nice when you win a big tournament."

Pegula counted the positives after a good week in which she did not drop a set until the final.

"It's always great to give yourself a chance to win the tournament," Pegula said.

"I'm definitely still positive about that and the level in some of my matches especially going into Beijing... She played some great tennis and sometimes that's how it goes."

Pegula will not be too disappointed, however, as her deep run will help her take a huge step towards securing a spot in the season-ending WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico.

She is set to join Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina who have all qualified for the season finale that starts later this month.