Pegula fights her way into Indian Wells 4th round

tennis13 March 2023 03:46| © AFP
Jessica Pegula © Getty Images

American Jessica Pegula still finds it "weird" to think of herself as the world's No 3 player, but she doesn't feel any particular pressure to live up to the ranking.

The American said her ability to compartmentalize keeps her focused on each match – just as it helps her take it point by point in the kind of comeback win she needed Sunday to reach the fourth round of the Indian Wells combined WTA and ATP Masters 1000 hard court tournament.

"That was definitely a battle today," Pegula said after rallying for a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Anastasia Potapova, who lifted the WTA trophy in Linz last month.

"I just felt like I started off a little slow," Pegula said. "She had some confidence, obviously going for a lot of her shots. She just won a tournament as well.

"So I'm just glad I was able to work my way back into the match and ended up playing much better than how I started."

It marked the second straight match that Pegula had to come from a set down to win.

While she had to make a concentrated effort to fire herself up in chilly, late-night conditions against Camila Giorgi, Pegula said that against Potapova she just tried to stick to her game plan.

"I just tried to stay calm and focused on what I was trying to do, especially on my service games," she said. "I felt like I could break her. I was going to get chances."

Pegula, whose two WTA titles include Guadalajara last year, has reached the quarterfinals of four of the last five Grand Slams, but has yet to break through to the final four of a major.

She said finding herself ranked among the world's top players may have ramped up the pressure "at first," but it hasn't changed her approach.

"I'm good at just thinking one match at a time. I think that has helped where I haven't felt really too much pressure as being top five," she said.

"It's weird. It's weird to think that I'm like three in the world. I don't even like to say it. I guess it's a good thing."


Elsewhere, second-seeded Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus advanced by walkover when Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from their scheduled match.

Tsurenko has now lost by retirement or walkover in nine of her 18 tournaments dating back to Indian Wells last year.

Sixth-seeded American Coco Gauff advanced with a brisk 6-4, 6-3 victory over Linda Noskova.

But last year's runner-up, Maria Sakkari, needed two and a half hours to seal a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Anhelina Kalinina – Sakkari's second straight come-from-behind victory.