No. 3 Seed Jessica Pegula Ousted at French Open

No. 3 Seed Jessica Pegula Ousted at French Open
Jessica Pegula (USA) serves during her first round match against Danielle Collins (USA) on day one at Stade Roland-Garros in Paris on May 28, 2023. (Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports via Field Level Media)
Field Level Media

Elise Mertens ousted No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula from the French Open on Friday with a 6–1, 6–3 win in Paris, making Pegula the highest women’s seed to fall so far.

Mertens, the No. 28 seed, now has defeated the American in all three of their matches, including a three-set victory in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarterfinals on March 11, 2021. Friday’s match at Roland Garros was easier for the Belgian, who won in just 82 minutes.

Next up for Mertens will be 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who defeated fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova, the No. 24 seed, 4–6, 6–3, 6–0.

For Mertens, this was the seventh top five win of her career. Pegula praised her after the match.

“I feel like I was still playing good points,” Pegula said. “Elise was just being really tough, not making a lot of errors and making me play every single ball.”

Mertens converted all five of her break opportunities and had an efficient 20 winners against 13 unforced errors. Pegula posted 19 and 28, respectively.

This is the third time Mertens has advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros.

Joining her in advancing was No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, a 6–2, 6–2 winner over Russian Kamilla Rakhimova.

Sabalenka was dominant on her serve, winning 81 percent of points on her first serve, and powering six aces. She converted four of seven break chances and 27 winners compared to nine for Rakhimova.

In other action, ninth-seeded Daria Kasatkina of Russia defeated Peyton Stearns 6–0, 6–1. The American committed 30 unforced errors in the match, which lasted less than an hour.

Kasatkina will next face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, who continued her spirited run with a 2–6, 6–2, 7–5 victory over Russian Anna Blinkova.

Svitolina had a 37–31 edge in winners while rallying for the victory.

“I’m trying to take one match at a time, try to give everything what I have each match,” Svitolina said afterwards. “Sometimes, you know, like last two matches didn’t go my way in the first set, but I tried to fight back, tried to find my way into the match. In the end, you know, I could push through, could push through these tough moments to find my rhythm back.”

Svitolina stuck to her custom of not shaking hands with Russian or Belarusian players due to the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine. Fans in Paris booed her.

Sloane Stephens continued to thrive with a 6–3, 3–6, 6–2 victory over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Stephens had 38 winners to Putintseva’s 23.

Also, Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic rolled to a 6–3, 6–2 victory over No. 27 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, and Elina Avanesyan of Russia outlasted Denmark’s Clara Tauson 3–6, 6–1, 7–5.

Pegula was the highest-seeded American in both the men’s and women’s draws. Her exit leaves No. 6 seed Coco Gauff as the only seeded American woman with a chance to win a Grand Slam event since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open—an 11-major drought.

Because of the dominance of the Williams sisters over the past two decades, the United States has not been without a Grand Slam win for this long since Monica Seles broke through at the 1996 Australian Open.