MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Third-seeded Jessica Pegula wore a skirt with the No. 3 on it to honor Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin and won 6-2, 7-6 (5) against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday to advance to the third round of the Australian Open.
“It was tough but I am happy that I was consistent in being proactive,” Pegula said. “I’m pretty happy that I won and can play the next round.”
Pegula served for the match at 5-4 in the second but was broken, before regrouping to win the tiebreaker. She’ll next play Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine or Olivia Gadecki, a wild-card entry from Australia.
In her first round match, Pegula overwhelmed Jaqueline Cristian of Romania 6-0, 6-1 in just 59 minutes.
Pegula and doubles partner Coco Gauff could meet in the semifinals; Collins could play Swiatek in the fourth round.
“Today is just one of those days everything was working,” said Pegula, a quarterfinalist in Melbourne each of the past two years. “Always feels good when you win a match like that. I think when those days come you just kind of take it and don’t complain and don’t critique. You kind of just move on to the next one.”
Pegula prepared for her first-round victory at the Australian Open by watching on TV as the Buffalo Bills edged the Miami Dolphins 34-31 in their opening game of the NFL playoffs.
Pegula, whose parents own the Bills and the NHL’s Sabres, said she woke up at 7 a.m. Monday in Melbourne — which was 3 p.m. Sunday in New York — and watched most of the second half before going on to defeat Jacqueline Cristian 6-0, 6-1 at Margaret Court Arena.
“It was a tough game. Not the prettiest of wins,” Pegula said about the Bills. “Definitely an ugly win, I think.”
“It’s like first game, playoffs, everyone is kind of nervous, a lot of tension,” she added, likening it to the jitters before an initial match at a Grand Slam tournament.
“It was fun obviously for them to get that win before I went on court,” Pegula said. “It wouldn’t have really affected me, I don’t think, but I would have just been annoyed that they lost.”