Wimbledon 2023: Pegula, Tiafoe lead American charge into Round 3
Four Americans soared through to Round 3 on Thursday at Wimbledon, with Top 10 seeds Jessica Pegula and Frances Tiafoe leading the effort for the Red, White and Blue.
The fourth-seeded Pegula powered past Cristina Bucsa, 6-1, 6-4, while 10th seed Tiafoe beat Dominic Stricker, 7-6(11), 6-4, 6-2. Sofia Kenin and Tommy Paul joined their compatriots with Day 4 victories, Kenin beating Wang Xinyu in straight sets and Paul downing Milos Raonic in four.
Pegula completed her work in just over an hour on No. 1 Court, fighting off a late surge from her Spanish opponent to get through in straight sets. After missing out on match points at 5-2 in the second, Pegula found herself under pressure serving at 5-4, Love-30.
Following a three-set win against fellow American Lauren Davis in the opening round, Pegula avoided going the distance on this occasion with a strong closing burst.
The 29-year-old has now reached the third round at a Grand Slam for the eighth straight time, making her the first American achieve that feat since Serena Williams progressed to that stage at nine consecutive majors (Roland Garros in 2018 through the 2020 US Open).
Pegula will seek her first Wimbledon fourth-round appearance when she meets Italy's Elisabetta Cocciaretto on Friday. She has reached the quarterfinals at least once at each of the other Grand Slams, including each of the last three Australian Opens.
Kenin backed up her Monday win against Coco Gauff with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Wang of China. The 2020 Aussie Open champion, who qualified for the Wimbledon main draw before upsetting the seventh-seeded Gauff, will also return to the court on Friday to take on Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.
In addition to the third-round matches for Kenin and Pegula, 25th seed Madison Keys and Madison Brengle will also take the court on Friday for second-round encounters. Keys will meet Viktorija Golubic while Brengle faces Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Tiafoe continued to march through the men's singles draw with his second straight-sets win in as many days. In similar fashion to his opening victory against Wu Yibing, the 25-year-old claimed a tight opening set against Stricker before easing through the finish line.
The 2022 US Open semifinalist saved four set points before taking the first-set tiebreak, 13-11, then powered home his advantage with a dominant serving performance that included 23 aces. He saved all four break points against him in the match.
"That first [set] was everything," Tiafoe told James Blake on ESPN after the win. "I wasn't playing my best in the first, but was serving well. I had a bunch of aces today, so I think that was the difference. And then experience, I think that was the biggest thing probably, especially in that first set. I loosened up quite a lot after that."
Confident in his ability to make a deep run this fortnight, Tiafoe will meet 21st seed Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday in the third round.
Sixteenth seed Tommy Paul also advanced to Round 3 with a 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-4 win. But he was give a stern test by Raonic, the 2016 Wimbledon finalist who is returning from a two-year injury hiatus.
Paul was forced into a fourth set as his Canadian opponent battled back from 5-3 in the third, saving two match points in the process. The American erased a break point early in the fourth set, then used three straight love holds to set up the win. Paul will face Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic on Saturday as he bids to return to the Wimbledon fourth round for the second straight year.
Two American men are on Friday's singles slate, with Marcos Giron and Christopher Eubanks both hoping to reach the Wimbledon third round for the first time. Giron will aim to complete a comeback against Marton Fucsovics after their match was suspended due to darkness with the Hungarian leading, 7-6(2), 6-3, 4-6. Eubanks faces 12th-seeded Briton Cameron Norrie on No. 1 Court as he bids to extend his debut run on the London lawns.