(Paris) Jessica Pegula quickly retrieved her belongings and left the court at the Philippe-Chatrier stadium following her 6-1, 6-3 loss to Elise Mertens in the third round of the Tennis Open from France, Friday.
For the 29-year-old American, seeded third in women’s singles, it’s a much quicker elimination than she’s been used to by observers in her recent Grand Slam outings.
Pegula had reached the quarter-finals at four of the last five major tournaments, including last year at Roland-Garros.
However, Pegula has never taken this step before in a Grand Slam tournament. Also, on a windy and chilly day, she never really got into the game against Mertens, a 27-year-old Belgian who made it to the semi-finals at the Australian Open in 2018.
“I have the feeling that I was nevertheless playing good points. Elise was just tough. She didn’t make many mistakes and forced me to play all the balls. And with the windy conditions, I feel like that worked in his favour,” analyzed Pegula.
“She played well in return and I thought she used the wind well one way or the other. With the tailwind, she was combative and against the wind, I found that she played good defensive tennis,” continued the American.
Mertens, 28e seeded, will play her next match against Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, finalist at the French Open in 2021, who defeated her compatriot Anastasia Potapova, ranked 24e4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Pegula’s loss comes on top of those of France’s Caroline Garcia (fifth seed), Greece’s Maria Sakkari (eighth) and Czech Petra Kvitova (10e). Only 12 top-seeded players made it through two rounds, the fewest in Paris since the women’s singles draw rose to 32 in 2002. remains more than 10.
The United States delegation lost another of its representatives when 2022 NCAA college champion Peyton Stearns was outshot 6-0, 6-1, in 55 minutes, by ninth-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina .
More than half of Kasatkina’s 59 points were the result of Stearns’ 30 unforced errors.
Pegula struggled similarly, finishing with 28 unforced errors compared to just 13 for Mertens.
The American got off to a rough start, losing the first five games, including two on her serve, all in less than 20 minutes.
Pegula had a moment of hope in the second set when she won her serve to give herself a 3-2 lead. However, Mertens won the next four games, and the match.
It was a better day for second-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who easily beat Russian Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2, 6-2, in 67 minutes.
In the evening, on the court of the Philippe-Chatrier stadium, the Canadian Denis Shapovalov will give battle to the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, favorite of the tournament. This will be the first duel between the two young players.
On the same court, Serbian Novak Djokovic, ranked third, takes on Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 29e first in the series.
In a first match completed in the men’s singles draw on Friday, Russia’s Karen Khachanov (11e) defeated Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis in four sets.