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Jessica Pegula Flies Under the Radar on the Australian Open


“I felt the pressure,” she said.

Ostapenko, who blasted Gauff off the court in straight sets Sunday, knows something about that. After she got here out of nowhere to win the French Open in 2017, her life turned the wrong way up. She felt like everyone expected her to win every tournament, “which is crazy, because you might be still a human and you can’t feel great daily,” she said. “A variety of attention from in all places outside the court, like photo shoots and all those sorts of things. You became more popular in your country. Everybody is watching you.”

Currently ranked seventeenth, Ostapenko said she got here to Australia hoping to start a climb back into the highest 10.

It’s value noting that contained in the locker room, nobody is under the radar. Every player knows every other player’s strengths and weaknesses, who’s hot, who’s nursing an injury or having a crisis of confidence.

Each Gauff and Pegula said that they were in no way surprised that Rybakina, who played her first two matches on outer courts, just as she had for much of the summer and fall, had taken out Swiatek along with her flat, thumping power that’s ideally suited to the court conditions here.

“It’s a motivation to win much more,” Rybakina said last week of her court assignments.

Likewise, everyone within the locker room knows Pegula, who beat Swiatek earlier this month, has been playing the most effective tennis of her life, moving fast across the court, freely giving so few points, forcing opponents to take whatever they will get from her, which hasn’t been much.

“That locker room is probably the most educated place on this planet,” said Pam Shriver, the Grand Slam doubles champion who recently began coaching Vekic part-time.

Like everyone else here, Shriver, who was courtside Monday as Vekic beat Linda Fruhvirtova, a gifted 17-year-old from the Czech Republic, is pondering the so-called Netflix curse. No player featured prominently in “Break Point,” which was released 10 days ago, made it past the fourth round. Three withdrew with injuries just days before the tournament. Shriver wondered whether the players who had decided to take part in the series had taken the time to think through the results that being a part of a high-profile series may need on their psyches on the eve of the yr’s first Grand Slam.

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