BNP Paribas Open: American Jessica Pegula narrowly avoids Indian Wells upset


Jessica Pegula, the top-ranked American at Indian Wells, narrowly avoided an upset to Russian Anastasia Potapova on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open.

After losing the first set, the third-seeded Pegula lost her lead in the second set only to gain it back and then forge a third-set comeback inside a packed Stadium 2 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win came on a difficult day for Pegula, who after coming back to win the second set, lost her serve and went down a break in the third. With the crowd behind her, she still managed to rally back to advance in the draw.

The match was nearly a massive blow to the American’s hopes of winning a women’s singles title at Indian Wells for the first time since Serena Williams won 2001. Pegula is the highest-seeded American at Indian Wells since Williams in 2016. Pegula will play the winner of Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic versus Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the Round of 16.

“That was definitely a battle today,” Pegula said. “I just felt like I started off a little slow. She had some confidence going, obviously going for a lot of her shots.”

Having won a tournament last month in Linz, Austria, Potapova entered the match with what appeared to be a lot of confidence. She looked poised and did not back down from the challenge of facing Pegula.

Pegula, 29, couldn’t quite find her rhythm in the match. She said her footwork was off and she had four different rackets with strings adjusted depending on the ever-changing conditions at Indian Wells. Potapova, 21, seemed to regain control of the match when she went up a break early in the third set. But neither player seemed to be able to hold their serve, and Pegula broke Potapova back and then held serve to take a 4-3 lead with those in the crowd on the edge of their seats.—Agencies