Jessica Pegula, the third-ranked player in the world, defeated Canadian Katherine Sebov on Thursday in the Miami Open opener with a decisive 6-3, 6-1 triumph.
Given that Iga Swiatek, the top-ranked player, withdrew, American Pegula is one of the favorites to fight Aryna Sabalenka for the championship.
“I had to adjust my game plan a little bit in that first set and then was able to close it out pretty easily,” said Pegula, a semi-finalist in Miami in 2022.
Pegula defeated Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 to advance to the second round, where she will play fellow American Danielle Collins.
“She is someone who is pretty tough to play against and on a fast court as well, she will be going for her shots and playing aggressive. She’s feisty, she competes really well. It’s going to be a tough match,” said Pegula.
Elise Mertens of Belgium defeated eighth-seeded Daria Kasatkina 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Mertens dominated as Kasatkina suffered physically and required a medical time-out in the second set after losing a 3-0 lead in the first set.
Paula Badosa of Spain defeated Laura Siegemund of Germany in a hard-fought match 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-3, and Anastasia Potapova of Russia upset Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine 6-1, 6-3.
Kostyuk was never able to put her opponent under strain despite having a lot of encouragement from Ukrainian supporters gathering behind flags on the little outer court.
At the conclusion of the game, neither player extended a handshake to the other as they walked off the court without exchanging greetings.
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Wearing a Spartak Moscow football shirt prior to a match in Indian Wells caused Potapova to spark some controversy and receive an official warning from the WTA.
Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic defeated Federico Coria of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in ATP first-round play.
“The conditions suit me much better than in Indian Wells,” Lehecka said.
“The surface is a bit faster and the balls are flying more. I managed it well and I am super happy to get the win,” he added.
Cristian Garin of Chile defeated American Marcos Giron by scores of 6-4, 2-6, and 6-4 and will now face Sebastian Baez of Argentina.
Carlos Alcaraz, the current world number one, will begin his campaign on Friday against Facundo Bagnis of Argentina.