Young American qualifier Jessica Pegula blew past No.5 seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets at the Cincinnati Open to make a quarterfinal matchup with Elise Mertens.

Pegula, who had already beaten Amanda Anisimova in the second round, weathered a mid-match fightback from Sabalanka to win 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

“I think it’s really great, I’ve beat three really top players right now, Top 50 players, and that gives me a lot of confidence going into the quarters,” Pegula said.

“I’m definitely happy, but it doesn’t really feel like the quarters because I played qualifying – it kind of feels like it should be a final!” Pegula added with a laugh. “But I definitely want to take this and use it as momentum going into the US Open.”

Pegula hit 10 winners and didn’t commit any unforced errors in an opening set, although Sabalenka never gave up and pulled it back to 2-2 before American pulled away again,

Then Sabalenka raised her game in the second set, winning five games in a row, before closing out the set, 6-2.

Pegula broke away with a break at 3-1 in the third, which proved to be decisive. And after two hours and eight minutes she prevailed.

Her next opponent Mertens defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-3 earlier in the day.


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