The tennis community is no stranger to intense competition and controversy. Every stroke, every game, and every tournament are scrutinized, analyzed, and celebrated. And that's also one of the reasons why the recent 2023 Canadian Open final in Montreal will be remembered not just for Jessica Pegula’s title run at the WTA 1000 event, but also for a controversy that overshadowed it.
As the weekend progressed, murmurs arose around the scheduling, and following delay of one semifinal match. Such decisions can dramatically tilt the balance of power, particularly when one contender gets ample time to recover while the other does not.
The organizers' scheduling gaffe became evident when Pegula, fresh from her Saturday semifinal, was to face Samsonova, who, just hours earlier, had been locked in an energy-sapping three-set battle against Elena Rybakina.
The result was, in many ways, foretold. An energetic Pegula clinched eleven consecutive games, leaving Samsonova little opportunity to catch her breath or regain her rhythm. The scoreboard, reading 6-1, 6-0, might have shown a one-sided match, but to those who understood the backdrop, it depicted a more complex narrative.
After her semifinal loss, Elena Rybakina slammed WTA's leadership, and after the final, Pegula also talked about the issue, realizing that her opponent was not 100% fit for their final match in Montreal.
"It sucks. I feel bad that we weren't able to play on a more fair playing ground...I feel bad it wasn't the way it should have been."
The American also joked about how many matches her opponent had to play in a very short period of time, and even though she will be disappointed not to lift the champion's trophy, the run has been a very successful one for her certainly.
"Congrats to Liudmila. You had an amazing week, you're an amazing player, I really wish you all continued success, and I think everybody needs to give her a round of applause because she’s played like five matches in three days."