Spotlight not an issue for Pegula

The No.3 seed is quietly going about her business, but we'd do well to pay attention.

Jessica Pegula, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Julien Crosnier / FFT
 - Simon Cambers

It hardly seems possible that a world No. 3 would be able to go under the radar at a Grand Slam event but so far Jessica Pegula is managing it.

The American has reached the quarter-finals in four of her past five Grand Slam events and is one of the most consistent performers on the tour.

And yet, thanks to the performances of Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina over the past year, Pegula tends to be overlooked in terms of potential champions.

Thankfully, she’s not bothered.

“I don't really care either way,” Pegula told reporters at Roland-Garros after beating Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2 in the first round on Sunday evening.


“I think I'm good with being under the radar; I'm good with not being under the radar. I mean, whatever. It doesn't really matter. If that's what it is this tournament, then that's fine. If that's how it's going to be, I don't have a problem with that.

“I think it's good either way. If one tournament I go in and I'm not, that means I'm playing well. So I think either way I'm fine with it.”

Knocking on the door

Pegula has high hopes for this Roland-Garros, where she reached the last eight 12 months ago. Yet to reach a slam semi-final, she says the 'Big Three' deserve their status.

“No, I'm not part of it. But hopefully one day I will be. Hopefully this year," said the Buffalo native.

“They've earned that right. They've been playing really solid tennis. Iga, we already know from last year. Aryna I felt like broke through in Australia as far as like winning a Slam, but I think her results have always been up there. Then Elena at the end of last year as well.


Jessica Pegula, practice, Roland-Garros 2023© Loïc Wacziak/FFT

She added: “To see them being so consistent, I think they've earned that right. Obviously ranking-wise I'm still No.3, but I'm sure that could change. I could go up or down, whatever. It depends on results.

“But I think they've earned that title, and I think it's nice to see three girls dominating. Hopefully I can be part of that conversation, but I think either way it's still great for women's tennis. Especially because everyone always talks about the inconsistency and all this stuff.

"I just tend to think it's because we have a lot of really great depth. It's nice to see them playing really, really good tennis, and I feel like it's good for the sport as well.”

Good foundations

Pegula reached the semi-finals in Charleston and then the quarters in Madrid, before losing early in Rome, beaten by another American, Taylor Townsend.

A nagging injury in Madrid and Rome checked her progress, while a bout of food poisoning last week left her feeling a little under-prepared coming to Paris.

Given the circumstances, her win over Collins was a rock-solid start and good preparation for her second-round battle with another hard-hitter, Camila Giorgi of Italy.

“There's been a lot of obstacles, I feel like, the last couple of weeks specifically, that have been really tough physically and then taking their toll mentally because of that,” she said.

Jessica Pegula, Roland-Garros 2023, first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

“I don't think I came in this week feeling my best or feeling the most prepared, but sometimes that happens. I'm glad I got through today. It's been a long few years of a lot of matches.

“I still feel good, but the last couple of weeks have been definitely interesting. The first time, too, playing Madrid and Rome two weeks and being American, we don't really love being in Europe that much. So it's definitely been different I think than last year.

“I'm happy that I was able to kind of shift my perspective at least today and be able to play really great tennis. Hopefully now that I have two days off I can kind of take that into the next match.”