MIAMI – Jessica Pegula’s first match at the Miami Open against Billie Jean King Cup teammate Sloane Stephens was “just a little awkward,” according to Pegula. She won easily and now there’s another elephant in the room: Pegula is playing in enemy territory.
Pegula’s family owns the Buffalo Bills, an NFL franchise on the rise. Perhaps their greatest rival in the AFC East is the Miami Dolphins. The Miami Open, it turns out, is being played at Hard Rock Stadium – home of those dreaded Dolphins.
“It is weird,” Pegula told reporters, “super-weird, being on the field. I have been on field for the games. It feels so different. “We use it as our warm-up kind of lounge area, and this year they have the stadium set up.”
The No. 16-seeded Pegula beat Stephens 6-1, 6-4 on the stadium court Friday to advance to the third round. She is one of five Americans playing in eight matches Sunday in the bottom half of the draw.
Pegula, who lives up the road in Boca Raton, draws No.17 seed Elena Rybakina in a first-time meeting. Rybakina is coming off a quarterfinal run at the BNP Paribas Open.
No.14 Coco Gauff vs. Zhang Shuai
No.14 Coco Gauff, the ascendant 18-year-old American, faces Zhang Shuai in another match between two players who haven’t met. Gauff defeated another Chinese player, Wang Qiang, 7-5, 6-4 in her first match.
More from the Miami Open:
- Next mission for Iga Swiatek: Join the rare Sunshine Double Club
- Osaka issued walkover to reach fourth round
- Bencic sweeps past Watson into Miami fourth round
- Meet Linda Fruhvirtova, the latest teenager making a splash on tour
Off the court, Gauff sounds like a typical teenager. When a reporter asked if her parents – who are admittedly nervous attending her matches – ever crossed her mind when she was playing.
“No,” Gauff answered quickly, “I mean, I don’t care if they’re nervous. Too bad. It’s not my problem.
“My dad, I can’t even watch matches with him. I don’t really look at him when I’m on the court, but I would never sit next to him to watch another tennis match ever again.”
A win over Zhang would send her into the sweet 16, where she would meet the winner of fellow American Madison Brengle or soon-to-be World No.1 Iga Swiatek. Brengle knocked off No.29 seed Liudmila Samsonova 6-4, 6-0, while Swiatek defeated Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 6-0 to guarantee herself the top spot following Ashleigh Barty’s retirement announcement. The two have split two previous matches, with Swiatek prevailing in the 2021 Adelaide round of 32.
No. 21 Veronika Kudermetova vs. Shelby Rogers
While Jelena Ostapenko has enjoyed a nice start to the 2022 season, she has exited from the past two WTA 1000 tournaments at the hands of Shelby Rogers. The 29-year-old American, ranked No.48, defeated the 2017 French Open champion in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, then finished with a flourish, besting Ostapenko 6-3, 7-6 (0) to advance to the third round.
Next up for Rogers is No.21 Veronika Kudermetova, who advanced when qualifier Dalma Galfi retired.
Qualifier Lauren Davis defeated qualifier Yuan Yue 6-4, 6-1 and then lucky loser Storm Sanders 6-4, 6-1. She now faces No.28 Petra Kvitova. The two-time major champion needed three sets to get past Clara Burel.
And finally ...
In the other matches, No. 5 Paula Badosa faces Yulia Putintseva and No.12 Victoria Azarenka, a three-time Miami champion, plays 16-year-old Czech Republic phenomenon Linda Fruhvirtova. The winners will play each other in the Round of 16.