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U.S. Women Continue To Roll Down Under At Australian Open

by Karen Price

Jessica Pegula of the United States celebrates after winning match point at the 2021 Australian Open on Feb. 13, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.

 

It’s been a great first week in the land down under for a member of one of the first families of Buffalo sports.
Jessica Pegula, daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, advanced to the fourth round of a major for the first time in her career with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over France’s Kristina Mladenovic on Friday at the Australian Open.
Up next for Pegula is fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who beat Coco Gauff in the second round, in Sunday’s quarterfinals.
Pegula, who will turn 27 on Feb. 24, reached the third round of a major for just the second time in her career when she beat 2011 U.S. Open Champion Samantha Stosur 6-0, 6-1. Before that, she upset two-time Aussie champion Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-4.
No. 22 Jennifer Brady, who beat fellow American Madison Brengle in the second round, also moved to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Kaja Juvan of Slovenia. Brady, 25, made the top 50 for the first time a year ago just before the pandemic and then the top 30 after reaching the semifinals of the US Open and winning her first WTA title. She’s reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open once before, back in 2017.
Unseeded Shelby Rogers, 28, advanced to the quarterfinals for just the third time in her career at a Grand Slam and the first time at the Australian Open. She beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, 6-4, 6-3, in the third round. Next up for Rogers is top-seeded Ashleigh Barty.
No. 10 Serena Williams also advanced, although for the four-time Olympian it would only be news if she didn’t. Williams defeated Russia’s Anastasia Potopova 7-6, 6-2.
In addition to Gauff’s early exit, No. 4 Sofia Kenin suffered a second-round upset at the hands of Estonian Kaia Kanepi. Five-time Olympian Venus Williams also lost in the second round. 
In men’s action, Mackenzie McDonald is now the last one standing among U.S. athletes. He’s into the fourth round of a major for the second time in his career after rattling off victories over Marco Cecchinato, No. 22 Borna Čorič and South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in straight sets in the third round. The 25-year-old suffered a severe injury at the 2019 French Open when he tore his hamstring off the bone. For a while, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever return to tennis at such a high level.
One U.S. man very nearly scored a major upset but fell just short in a five-set third-round thriller. 
No. 27 Taylor Fritz fought back from an 0-2 deficit to pull even with top seed Novak Djokovic before ultimately losing 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2. Djokovic said after the match that he has an abdominal tear and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to continue on in the tournament. 


Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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