World No.4 Jessica Pegula has been revealed to have dumped her long-time coach David Witt just days after her early loss at the Australian Open, blindsiding the award-winning mentor.
Pegula’s run of three straight quarter-finals at the Melbourne grand slam came to an end when she was knocked out in the second round last month.
The straight-sets loss to world No.51 Clara Burel followed a defeat to world No.57 Katie Boulter in the lead-up United Cup, belying her strong form at the end of 2023.
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Pegula reached the championship match at four of her last six tournaments prior to the turn of the year, including at the WTA Cancun Finals where she defeated Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and three other top-10 stars.
But it appears she felt something wasn’t right during her brief stint in Australia to start 2024, splitting with her coach soon after her tournament ended.
“It was a total surprise to me. Never saw it coming,” Witt told Tennis.com this week.
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The pair first linked up back in 2019 when Pegula was a fringe contender ranked just inside the world’s top 100.
She won her first WTA 1000 title in 2022 and another last year but the ultimate goal of winning a grand slam eluded her.
Pegula came closest in doubles alongside Coco Gauff, reaching the 2022 French Open final and the semis at the Australian and French Opens in 2023.
The doubles pairing did find success three times on the WTA Tour.
Pegula’s progress led to Witt being named WTA Coach of the Year for 2022.
Witt, who previously coached Venus Williams, said it was “very tough” to learn Pegula had opted to part ways.
“You just never know how high a player can go,” he said.
“Me as a coach, I go into it thinking I’m going to try to get the best out the player that I’m working with. I think we’ve done that.
“She’s obviously knocking on the door. Our goals were to win a grand slam. Obviously, that was cut short, didn’t get to accomplish that, but I think everything else has been awesome.”
Jessica Pegula presents David Witt with his coach of the year award. Credit: Robert Prange/Getty Images
Pegula has yet to comment on splitting with Witt.
After her defeat in the WTA Finals title match last year she thanked the coach as part of a broad message to her team.
“It’s been a really long year but very successful,” Pegula said.
“I didn’t think I could do much better than last year but I definitely have and continue to keep improving.
“Thank you guys for being by my side this year, we’ve had a great year so let’s just keep that going.”