NEW YORK — There’s a lot on Jessica Pegula’s plate here at the US Open, but after a busy week she continues to check all those boxes.
On Saturday, the No.3 seed advanced to the fourth round in singles with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over No.26 Elina Svitolina.
She’ll face No.17 Madison Keys, who earlier was a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 comeback winner over No.14 Liudmila Samsonova.
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“I knew no matter what, she wasn’t going to go away,” Pegula said in her on-court interview. “She’s been playing amazing. She really picked up her level and forced me to go after that third set.”
Lately, Pegula and Keys have been in the same sections of the draw, but the matchup failed to materialize — until now.
“I think Jess probably plays a little bit flatter than I do,” Keys told reporters. “But I think maybe if I have the advantage on the serve, she has the advantage on the return. I think we kind of are opposites a little bit.
“But she’s been playing some amazing tennis the past few years. I mean, it’s going to be a really difficult match no matter who wins.”
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With a win on Monday, Pegula will have reached the quarterfinals of three of the four majors for the second consecutive year. She won the only previous match against Keys — a finalist here in 2017 and a semifinalist in 2018 — last year in San Diego.
But singles is only one of three endeavors for Pegula at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. She’s half of the No.3-seeded double team, along with Coco Gauff, and was scheduled to play later for a berth in the Round of 16.
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Oh, and then there’s mixed doubles, where she and Austin Krajicek are the top seeds. They play Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray for a berth in the quarterfinals.
So, doing the math, the win over Svitolina was Pegula’s 103rd match of the year, making her the hardest-working woman in the business, just outpacing her doubles partner. She’s 46-14 in singles, 33-7 in doubles and 1-2 in mixed. Those 46 wins are the most she’s ever produced in a single season. She’s also only the fifth American to collect 40-plus wins in consecutive years, joining Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Serena and Venus Williams.
Moreover, Pegula is heating up like the weather in the northeast. She’s now 11-2 in singles in the North American hardcourt swing, including the title at the WTA 1000 event in Montreal.
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Pegula, 29, and Svitolina, 28, occupy the same era, but took markedly different paths to this meeting. Pegula, a late bloomer, is ranked No.3 among Hologic WTA Tour players and has made a habit of reaching major quarterfinals. Svitolina married fellow pro Gael Monfils in 2021 and gave birth to daughter Skai last October. After a year away from the game, she’s been a revelation, playing more freely and with uncharacteristic aggressiveness. Svitolina reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the semifinals at Wimbledon, beating Top 10 players Iga Swiatek and Daria Kasatkina along the way.
The first four games featured a feeling-out process that saw both players poking and prodding for an advantage. The fifth, at the 24-minute mark, brought the first break of serve, to Pegula, when Svitolina lost concentration and struck two double faults. She might have escaped, but on Pegula’s second break opportunity, Svitolina missed a first serve — and Pegula punished a weak second, leaning in for an easy backhand winner down the line.
And that was enough to win the set. Pegula won 21 of 29 service points and did not face a break point. At one point, Svitolina clipped her shoe with a swinging racket, her frustration evident.
Svitolina had several opportunities to break open the second set, but a missed volley or a forehand sent long always seemed to get in the way.
Finally, with Pegula serving at 4-5, the definitive opening appeared and Svitolina seized it, converting her third break point of the game. Svitolina ran around her backhand on a second serve and blasted a forehand that Pegula couldn’t keep in the court.
As she did in the first set, Pegula scored the decisive break in the fifth game of the deciding set. And then, with Svitolina serving at 2-4, she broke again with a forceful forehand winner into the open court.
On match point, Svitolina sent a forehand screaming past the baseline and Pegula was again a winner in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Pegula won 41 of her 54 first-serve points (76 percent) and finished with nine aces, against only two double faults.
Pegula defeated Svitolina for the fourth time in five tries and for the second time in one month, going back to a three-set triumph in the Washington D.C. quarterfinals.