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Top seeds hold form heading to Charleston semifinals

Syndication: Desert Sun

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia returns to Magdalena Frech of Poland during their second-round match at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif., Saturday, March 11, 2023.

Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

CHARLESTON, S.C. - No. 1 seed Jessica Pegula led the top four seeds into the semifinals at the Charleston Open.

Pegula beat 12th-seeded Paula Bedosa 6-3, 7-6 (6) to complete the final four in the season’s first clay-court event.

Also advancing were second-seeded Ons Jabeur, No. 3 seed Daria Kasatkina and No. 4 seed Belinda Bencic, the defending champion.

It’s the first time the top four seeds made it to the semifinals here since 2000 when Mary Pierce, Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles, and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario completed the feat.

Pegula will face Bencic with Jabeur taking on Kasatkina on Saturday.

Pegula continued her strong play this season with her fourth semifinal in six tournaments. She leads the WTA with 22 match victories.

“The depth in women’s tennis is incredible. You can’t take any match lightly,” Pegula said. “A lot of people might say someone’s not as consistent, but it’s really just because of the depth.”

Jabeur, who fell to Bencic in the championship match here a year ago, lost one game in beating Anna Kalinskaya, who retired with an illness while trailing 6-0, 4-1.

Kasatkina dropped the first set to past champion and ninth-seeded Madison Keys before rallying for a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Bencic won her ninth straight match on the green clay of the Credit One Tennis Center, defeating seventh-seeded Ekatarina Alexandrova 6-3, 6-3.

Jabeur looked comfortable on clay for this season in the season. She has not dropped a set in three matches. She’ll try and keep that going in the semis against Kasatkina, who lost her first set of the week to Keys.

“I was feeling good on the practice. I was training well with my team,” Jabeur said. “Playing matches is always different. And I felt like, ‘OK, I’m just going to focus on each match and see what’s going to happen.’”

Jabeur, ranked fifth in the world, had four aces and no double faults. She won nearly 78% of her first serves and saved all three break point opportunities Kalinskaya had.

The only thing that might slow her down? The weather forecast for Saturday, which calls for steady rain throughout. “I’m going to call my people in Tunisia and bring the sun here,” she joked.

Keys was two games away from advancing, up a set and 4-3 in the second when Kasatkina found her game to win nine of the last 11 games.

Kasatkina hadn’t won more than one match in her past six tournaments, including a first-round exit last time out at the Miami Open. Now, she’s a win away from a WTA final.

“The beginning of the year was a bit rough,” Kasatkina said. “Just so happy to finally be on the right track.”