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Daughter of NFL, NHL owners advances at Australia Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – It’s a good distance from Buffalo, New York, to the second week of a Grand Slam, which can be why Jessica Pegula’s journey took some time.

The No. 61-ranked Pegula reached the fourth spherical at the Australian Open by drubbing Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-1 Saturday.

Even Pegula, 26, appeared shocked by her finest profession displaying at a serious match. She beat two-time Australian champion Victoria Azarenka within the first spherical, and has dropped a complete of 4 video games up to now two rounds.

“I don’t really expect to be playing this good next match,” Pegula mentioned.

She’s a Buffalo native and the daughter of Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the NFL Bills and NHL Sabres. She trains in Florida, and whereas there have been no spectators at Melbourne Park to applaud her newest win, she felt loads of assist from throughout the Pacific.

“Some in Buffalo, some in Florida – everyone is watching back home and cheering for me,” she mentioned, earlier than including with fun, “and happy the matches have been quick.”

There had been no followers within the stands as a result of begin of a five-day lockdown imposed by the Victoria state authorities in response to a COVID-19 outbreak at a resort. Up to 30,000 spectators day by day – 50% of capability – had been admitted on earlier days.

No. 25-seeded Karolina Muchova staged an astounding second-set comeback from a 5-0 deficit in close to silence, which solely made the turnaround appear more strange as she beat No. 6 Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-5.

Muchova performed in an empty Rod Laver Arena.

“It’s a big difference,” the Czech mentioned. “I was actually getting, like, happy yesterday morning that I’m finally going to play on a bigger court and there’s going to be a crowd. But unlucky now for five days here. Hopefully then it’s going to be back again.”

Muchova waged her comeback towards a fellow Czech and former world No. 1.

“I’m a little sad,” Muchova mentioned. “We are very good friends. But it’s a game, so I’m definitely happy I made it through. I think we were both a little nervous.”

Pegula will next play No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina, who beat No. 26 Yulia Putintseva, 6-4, 6-0.

Pegula lost the first six points but then began to dominate with her versatile game. She hit 21 winners to just 13 unforced errors and won eight points at the net.

Her previous best showing at a Grand Slam tournament was a run to the third round at last year’s U.S. Open.

Svitolina, a tour veteran from Ukraine who has won 66 Grand Slam matches, needs one more win to match her best showing in Melbourne. She was a semifinalist at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019.

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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