Pegula cruises, awaits Svitolina next at US Open

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Jessica Pegula crushed Patricia Maria Tig 6-3, 6-1 at the U.S. Open on Thursday night in New York to set up a third-round clash with Elina Svitolina.

The clean ball-striking of the top-ranked American was more than the world No. 700 from Romania could handle in a match that lasted just over an hour.

Pegula, seeded third, never trailed in a contest where she won 80% of her first-serve points and broke Tig’s serve six times.

Next up for the Buffalo native is Ukrainian Svitolina, who came from behind to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia earlier Thursday.

Pegula edged Svitolina in a three-set battle in Washington D.C. earlier this summer and holds a 3-1 advantage in their career meetings.

“Every single match we play is just a really good battle,” Pegula said.

“I feel like we play to each other’s games where we make each other play better and we always have really great matches.”

Svitolina returned in April following the birth of her daughter, and Pegula said she was already in top form.

“It’s great to see her back, playing at such a high level so quickly. I just played her a few weeks ago, so it’s going to be very tough,” she said.

Pegula took Arthur Ashe Stadium court after defending men’s champion Carlos Alcaraz won his second-round match, and she said she’s starting to feel comfortable on the sport’s biggest stage.

“I never thought that I would be getting used to Ashe, but somehow I am,” she said.

“But it’s hard to follow Carlos. It’s a tough act to follow, man.”

Earlier, Russian Daria Kasatkina battled back to defeat American Sofia Kenin 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round.

The 13th seed looked to be heading out of the tournament after Kenin cruised through the first set and took a 3-1 lead in the second. But she settled in from there, breaking Kenin for 3-3 and again to level the contest at a set apiece.

Kenin, a former Grand Slam champion now ranked No. 101 in the world, broke in the opening game of the decider but was broken right back in a match that featured 14 total breaks of serve.

Kasatkina and Kenin have now split their four career meetings.

Last year’s runner-up, Ons Jabeur, was made to work hard by Czech teenager Linda Noskova before sealing a 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-3 victory.

The Tunisian fifth seed, who is seeking a maiden Grand Slam title, edged a tight opening set before 18-year-old Noskova stepped up the pressure in the second.

Noskova had won their only previous meeting in the Adelaide semifinals earlier this year and breezed to a 5-1 lead before Jabeur came storming back by winning three quick games.

Jabeur, who was dogged by breathing difficulties and other issues in her last match, took a tumble chasing a low shot at the net and appeared shaken up briefly as the big-hitting Noskova held her serve to level the match.

The Tunisian said she was still not at 100% but added that playing in the night session had helped her.

“But yeah, I’m taking it slow,” Jabeur said. “Not really slow in this match, but I have one day off and hopefully I’ll feel better after tomorrow.

“It’s tricky to feel sick during a tournament so we manage with the team. Let’s see what’s going to happen.”

Also Thursday on the women’s side of the bracket, Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys all advanced.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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