2023 Miami Open: Pegula, Fritz, Eubanks march on
Three Americans marched on during a busy Tuesday in Miami, with Jessica Pegula progressing to the women's singles semifinals after Taylor Fritz and qualifier Chris Eubanks reached the men's quarters. All three set up marquee matchups against some of the hottest players in tennis, with Pegula to face Indian Wells champ Elena Rybakina, Fritz to meet world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and Eubanks to play Daniil Medvedev.
Pegula saved two match points as she played into the early hours of Wednesday morning to move past Anastasia Potapova, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2). The world No. 3 erased those match points with Potapova serving at 5-4, 40-15 in the final set and again stopped her opponent from serving out a win at 6-5.
It was all Pegula in the tiebreak, her victory making her the first American to reach consecutive semis in Miami since Serena Williams in 2014 and 2015.
The Buffalo native will bid to improve to 3-0 against Rybakina in their Thursday semifinal showdown. In their most recent meeting last October, Pegula saved three match points to win in a third-set tiebreak en route to the Guadalajara title.
"I don't mind playing her, at least in the past," Pegula said of the Australian Open finalist. "Obviously she's picked up her level since then, so it'll be a tough test, especially after this match. Just physically [I will] see how I feel. Hopefully I can recover in time. At least I have another day.
"I think she and [Aryna] Sabalenka are the ones to beat right now so it's going to be a great test and a deserved semi for a tournament like this."
In the men's draw, Fritz and Eubanks are in opposite halves and are now two wins apiece away from a final meeting on Sunday. On the heels of his run to the Indian Wells quarterfinals, Fritz beat Holger Rune, 6-3, 6-4, in a Top 10 battle to reach the Miami quarters for the first time.
With 19 winners, Fritz put in his best performance of the tournament after grinding his way through opening wins against Emilio Nava and Denis Shapovalov, all without losing a set.
"I think my average level of tennis is a lot higher," Fritz said of his smooth progress through the Miami draw. "I don't need to always show up and play my best and if I don't play my best, that level is higher than it used to be. I feel I can come through and win a lot of matches."
Already a champion in Delray Beach this season, Fritz is seeking his second South Florida title of 2023. He will face his toughest test yet against Alcaraz, who defeated Tommy Paul, 6-4, 6-4, to continue his quest for the Sunshine Double following his Indian Wells triumph. The defending champ in Miami, Alcaraz must retain his title in order to remain world No. 1 ahead of Novak Djokovic.
Eubanks won a second straight rain-delayed thriller against French opposition to make his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal. After beating Gregoire Barrere to seal his Top 100 debut in the previous round, the American edged Adrian Mannarino, 7-6(2), 7-6(5), on Tuesday, setting himself up for a new career high of world No. 85.
“Today feels a little bit more like, ‘Hey, I’m here. Trust it,’” Eubanks said after picking up his sixth Miami win this tournament, including two in qualifying. “I’m playing well and let’s just see how long we can keep this thing going.”
Quickly becoming a fan favorite, Eubanks has received congratulations from Jamie Foxx on social media this week and had the support of NFL legend Chad Johnson from the stands in his latest victory. He will hope to ride the home support to another win in his first meeting with Medvedev on Thursday.
Three Americans also advanced to the doubles semis with Tuesday wins, as Austin Krajicek (with Nicolas Mahut), Taylor Townsend (with Leylah Fernandez) and Bernarda Pera (with Magda Linette) all victorious.