Martina Navratilova explains the ‘mental’ issue Jessica Pegula must overcome to win Grand Slam

Jessica Pegula in action

Jessica Pegula has the ability to beat any of the elite players on the WTA Tour, but she needs to make some tweaks if she is to win a Grand Slam, according to tennis legend Martina Navratilova.

The American has been a model of consistency since she made her top 20 breakthrough in 2021 and last year she climbed to a career-high No 3 in the rankings on the back of winning the WTA 1000 Guadalajara Open.

She has also impressed at the Grand Slams in 2022 as she reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, French Open and US Open and that theme has continued this year as she again made the last eight at Melbourne and Wimbledon.

Outside of the four biggest tournaments, she also finished runner-up in Qatar, reached semi-finals in Dubai, Miami, Charleston and most recently the Citi DC Open.

While there is no doubt that Pegula has the ability to beat the top players, tennis great Navratilova says her quarter-final losses at the majors will no doubt have taken a toll.

However, all is not lost for the 29-year-old as the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion says she simply needs to change her approach.

“She was up 4-1 in the third set against [Marketa] Vondrousova in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, and now she’s 0-6 in major quarters. The more that happens, the greater the scar tissue builds up. It becomes a mental thing.

“Jessie has improved so much – if you saw her five years ago you wouldn’t have pegged her as a top five player. I still think she can beat these elite women if she can just find a little more belief in her attacking game.

“You’re not going to win a major strictly playing defence. She needs to get outside of her comfort zone the way [Elina] Svitolina has been doing.”

Jessica Pegula at the Grand Slams since 2021

Australian Open – quarter-final, quarter-final, quarter-final
French Open – third round, quarter-final, third round
Wimbledon – second round, third round, quarter-final
US Open – third round, quarter-final

Vondrousova went on to win the Wimbledon title and Pegula herself saw her glass as half full as she explained ahead of the Citi DC Open that the Czech made the most of the opportunity.

“It’s like mixed emotions, right, or like kind of mad or you’re kind of like, I guess if I’m going to lose, it sounds better if you lose to the person that wins the tournament, especially a Slam, which has happened to me multiple times,” she said.

“I think it also gives you extra motivation, that you’re right there and it shows that every little point really counts and that could be the difference between you getting to the next round or possibly winning the tournament and you being out.

“It’s always a weird kind of feeling but I thought again, I think she wholeheartedly deserved it. She played great. It just wasn’t meant for me or whoever else was in the tournament that time. She played great, and, yeah it’s cool to see her win, especially I know she had some injuries and stuff like that.”

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