MIAMI - World No.3 Jessica Pegula and Australian Open semifinalist Magda Linette will put their friendship on pause for a day when they face off for a spot in the Miami Open quarterfinals on Monday.
Looking to back up her outstanding run to her first Slam semifinal in January, No.19 Linette fought past Victoria Azarenka in the third round to post her best result at a WTA 1000 event since 2017.
"It's super important to back up your other results," Linette told WTA Insider after the win. "Even if I didn't think I played great, I beat a player that I watched on TV and looked up to. So it's something really special and I'm really happy that in my 30s, I'm kind of able to do my best results."
We keep going👊 pic.twitter.com/wrXehho3SY— Magda Linette (@MagdaLinette) March 25, 2023
For both Pegula, 29, and Linette, 31, success during the latter half of their careers has been a common theme. Linette has had a training base in Florida for years. With Pegula based in Boca Raton, the two practice together and hang out off-court as well. Their concurrent positions on the WTA Players' Council has continued to strengthen their bond.
"To see her break through at a Slam, I thought it was so nice because I think it was just so well-deserved for someone like her who is a good person, she works hard, stays in her world," Pegula said after a straight-set win over Danielle Collins. "There's no drama with her. She just comes to work and works. To see her getting rewarded like that I thought was really nice.
"Working with her on player council has been really cool because she obviously has her points of view coming from Poland, coming from someone that wasn't ranked as high, now she's moving up, the struggle she faced when maybe she was ranked lower or injured or hurt, stuff like that. It's been fun getting to know her."
The admiration flows both ways.
"I love Jess. I think everybody does, though," Linette said. "She's so down to earth, you don't even realize what a great tennis player she is because of how humble she is. I don't think she gets enough credit for what she's doing.
"Honestly, the career that she has so far, it's so impressive. She's so stable with her results, week in and week out she's just going so far in every single tournament. She doesn't have spectacular strength or she doesn't do much fuss about whatever she's doing, she's not screaming.
"But the timing that she has, the easiness that she's hitting with and the power that she can generate just because of how well she times the ball, it's special. I find her extremely talented and really smart on court. You can see she reads the game, she knows what she's doing and she trusts her shots. I don't think she gets the credit that she really deserves."
Linette is preparing herself for a tough battle on Monday, but Miami has been a successful tournament for the Pole regardless. After her Australian Open run, Linette admits it took her some time to rediscover the winning formula that boosted her in Melbourne. She came into Miami on a three-match losing streak, which she attributes to a lack of patience.
"I think at the very beginning I had the picture of just playing great and all the winners I played [in Melbourne] and I completely forgot how I was winning points," Linette said. "I wanted to dominate so much and it's not my style.
"So it took me a little bit to go back and be okay with the style I'm having and not to go for something. Take two steps back and just be more consistent again and then, if I have a chance, go for it. Give myself some space, have really good margins. That's what I was doing in Australia, and I thought at the very beginning after Australia I forgot it."
In a surprising twist, Monday's match will be the first time Pegula and Linette will face each other on the Hologic WTA Tour. The winner will face either Zheng Qinwen or Anastasia Potapova in the quarterfinals.