Pegula braced for 'tricky' Mertens clash

On-form No.3 seed Jessica Pegula took a swifter than expected path to the third round of RG2023.

Jessica Pegula, Roland-Garros 2023, second round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT
 - Simon Cambers

Third seed Jessica Pegula advanced to the third round at Roland-Garros in an easier than expected manner on Wednesday after her opponent, Camila Giorgi, withdrew at the end of the first set.

The American was leading 6-2 and looked in total control when the Italian decided she was unable to carry on.

Pegula will now play No. 28 seed Elise Mertens in the third round.

Story of the match

Giorgi’s withdrawal brought an abrupt end to the encounter but Pegula, who has reached the quarters at four of the past five slams, was in dominant mood and looked well set to run away to a straight-sets victory.

A big forehand in the opening game set the tone and though Giorgi saved a couple of break points, a double-fault handed Pegula an immediate break.


As in the first few days of the tournament, a swirling wind accompanied the sunshine but Pegula seemed unaffected, timing the ball beautifully and never allowing Giorgi to dominate the rallies the way she likes to.

Giorgi’s power is usually enough to force errors from most opponents but Pegula’s depth and court coverage was so good that the Italian was consistently on the back foot.

Jessica Pegula, Roland-Garros 2023, second round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

A backhand that clipped the net and went long sealed a hold for Pegula to consolidate the break and lead 2-0.

The American, who secured a first-round victory over compatriot Danielle Collins, showed nice touch, too, keeping Giorgi off balance; her drop shot proving particularly effective. A clever slice backhand winner gave her a second break as she took control of the opening set.


Giorgi was under constant pressure on serve; any miss of first serve spelled trouble for the Italian. Two crisp backhand winners set up another break-point chance at 4-0 but the Italian held on to get on the board.

Pegula, however, was in a nice rhythm on serve and held her next two service games with ease, finishing with back-to-back aces to take the first set after 33 minutes.

Giorgi then surprised everyone, including Pegula, by calling it a day.

Keys stats

Pegula is not known for blowing opponents off court with the power of her serve but her placement is as good as anyone. She won 11 of 12 points on her first serve and never faced a break point.

Giorgi is renowned for her winners count but the Italian couldn’t hit through the court, or Pegula. By contrast, Pegula hit 12 winners to just five from the Italian.

The 0-4 exchanges were close (Pegula winning 16 to Giorgi's 13) but when the rallies extended to nine and above, it was Pegula who won all five of them.

What the winner said

"I thought today was going to be a very long day but actually ended up being a quicker day than I was expecting, which is always good, especially if you're winning," Pegula said, having also played - and won - her first-round match in doubles with Coco Gauff.

"It's very windy out today, different conditions, but the sun is out and I feel like the clay is playing very nice. A little quicker when the sun is out as well but tricky conditions with the wind today, for sure."

Pegula said Elise Mertens, her third-round opponent, would be a difficult customer.

"We haven't played in a little while," she said. "We played doubles quite a few times but not singles. She's really tricky I think. A really smart player. Kind of a counter-puncher, but is very strategic as well.

"So I think it will be difficult. I don't know if we've ever played on clay before, but it will definitely be a match where I'm not going to be able to make a lot of errors, can't really go for too much. I'm going to have to play smart, serve smart. She also competes very well.

"I know that going in, it's going to be a tough match and a tricky match-up for me."