In an intense match at the U.S. Open, Jessica Pegula faced her first real challenge of the tournament against Ukrainian Elina Svitolina. The American, who had been cruising through her previous matches, found herself tied at one set apiece and two-all in the final set. The pressure was on, but Pegula showed her resilience as she responded to the adversity without breaking a sweat.
Pegula managed to reel off the next four games, securing a hard-fought victory over Svitolina with a final score of 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Reflecting on her performance, Pegula acknowledged the tough competition, stating, "I knew, no matter what, she wasn't gonna go away. Every time I play her, it's so close. She's playing amazing. She definitely picked up her level and forced me to really have to come out strong in the third set."
Breaking Svitolina's serve in the final set was a crucial moment for Pegula, as it propelled her forward towards victory. This marks only the second time that Pegula has reached the fourth round at the U.S. Open, with her previous appearance in 2020 ending in a loss to eventual champion Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals.
Next up for Pegula is a meeting with fellow American Madison Keys on Labor Day. Keys, the 17th seed, also faced a challenging match in the third round. She rallied back after losing the opening set against No. 14 seed Liudmila Samsonova, ultimately prevailing with a score of 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Pegula and Keys, who have been facing each other consistently in recent tournaments, are excited to put on a show for the fans. Pegula expressed, "We've been in the same section every single tournament the last three or four tournaments. We were like, 'I think the world just wants us to play,' so I'm glad we get to put on a show for you guys. It's gonna be really tough."
Keys has been performing well in major tournaments lately, reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and aiming for a return to the same stage at the U.S. Open, where she last made it to the semifinals in 2018. The 28-year-old player credits her fiance and fellow tennis player, Bjorn Fratangelo, for her strong play and his ability to calm her down during difficult moments.
Keys expressed her gratitude for Fratangelo's support, stating, "Everything's been really good. He's keeping a tally of his wins and losses. Jesse Pegula's coach, David Witt, keeps calling him coach of the year, and that he's coming for his titles. So, so far so good. Overall just really time on court, just kind of trying to get me to relax and take a little bit of pressure off of myself. I think when you have one of your biggest supporters standing there, especially after the French Open, a tough time for me, just kind of having that constant support, I think was the biggest difference."
With both Pegula and Keys showing their determination and fighting spirit, their upcoming match promises to be a thrilling showdown at the U.S. Open. Tennis fans can look forward to witnessing these talented Americans battle it out on the court.