Jessica Pegula arrived at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open as one of the hot favourites to claim the title on Saturday the 6th of May. The 2022 finalist is hoping for, at least, a repeat of last year’s performance. She is dreaming of emulating her compatriot Serena Williams by becoming just the second US player to win in the Caja Mágica and has already given a convincing demonstration of her prowess on the clay. The world No. 3 took her first step on Friday by defeating Polish player Magdalena Frech in a tough match (7-6, 6-3) for a place in the third round.
They had only crossed swords once before, when the world No. 3 breezed to victory (6-2, 6-1). Pegula started the match by continuing her stunning form on the return. No player has broken her opponent’s serve more times this season, and as soon as the match begun she had claimed another victim in the Pole.
She held firm on her own serve through most of the first set until she was serving to close it out, which is when her Polish opponent got her tail up and levelled the scores, forcing a first-set tiebreak. There, the American’s experience shone through and she ended up claiming the first set 7-6 (3). “It was a tough moment after she had broken me, but I managed to adjust my game right there and take the set”, explained the world No. 3.
After taking a 1-0 lead, the Florida native kicked on to find some of her best tennis. She quickly earned herself two breaks and closed out the second set with a resounding 6-3. “I feel very comfortable on court and I’m hitting the ball really well. I’m happy with the result and now I’ll keep taking it match by match”, added Pegula minutes after sealing the win. The North American now awaits the winner of the clash between Sasnovich and Bouzkova.
Jessica is in the form of her life after reaching her career-high ranking and is very much enjoying the opportunity to play in Madrid: “I feel very welcome, people love tennis here, I feel recognised and that’s not something that always happens in the USA”, she admitted, laughing. “The support we get is really amazing”.
One match down… can Pegula return to the Mutua Madrid Open final?