Pegula’s sports align ahead of Australian Open quarterfinals

Jan 23, 2022, 1:22 AM | Updated: 10:20 am
Jessica Pegula of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Maria Sakkari of Greece in their fourth round...

Jessica Pegula of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Maria Sakkari of Greece in their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

(AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The timing for Jessica Pegula’s run to the Australian Open quarterfinals has even accommodated another of her sporting passions.

Pegula has been able to plan preparation around watching the Buffalo Bills in an NFL divisional play-off game in Kansas City.

The Bills, owned by Pegula’s parents, play the Chiefs mid-morning local time in Melbourne, and she’ll settle in with her sister to watch it on TV.

“It will be easy. I’ll just wake up tomorrow, get to watch the game, then practice afterwards,” the 27-year-old said. “My sister is here, but the rest of my family is in Kansas City. It’s cool to kind of see them in another big situation, then me in a big situation today.

“It’s a cool thing to look forward to. It’s fun to get the fans involved because there’s not a lot of tennis in Buffalo. It’s nice that everyone is fired up about me winning and fired up about the game.”

Pegula even signed the courtside TV camera lens after her third-round singles victory with a note that read: “Bills you’re next.”

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PENG SHUAI

Tennis Australia has backed a decision by police and security officers to demand a spectator remove a shirt featuring a message of support for Chinese player Peng Shuai.

Video emerged on Sunday morning of a woman being intercepted at Melbourne Park wearing the shirt with an image of Peng on the front and the message “Where is Peng Shuai?” on the back.

“Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.

“Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern. We continue to work with the WTA and global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation and will do everything we can to ensure her wellbeing.”

A GoFundMe page seeking support to distribute Peng Shuai shirts at the Australian Open had raised thousands of dollars within 24 hours on the weekend.

The Women’s Tennis Association has taken a strong stand on the issue saying it will not play any tournaments in China this year.

Players’ Council member and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka said the organization is still yet to hear from Peng and her welfare.

NO COMMENT

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has rejected reports that nine-time champion Novak Djokovic was preparing to sue the Australian government.

Tiley, also the chief executive of Tennis Australia, blamed miscommunication and changing circumstances in the COVID-19 pandemic for Djokovic being deported on the eve of the tournament after his visa was cancelled because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Tiley has had interviews with the tournament’s host TV broadcaster and with the national broadcaster, the ABC, but he hasn’t spoken with the mainstream media covering the championships.

Djokovic lost a legal challenge after an 11-day saga that started when his medical exemption to Australia’s strict COVID-19 quarantine requirements was rejected by the Australian Border Force when he flew into Melbourne.

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SERVE-VOLLEY

American Maxime Cressy is a throwback to a bygone tennis era with a potent serve-and-volley style that has powered him into the Australian Open fourth round.

That intimidating presence will need to be perfectly calibrated for the supreme test against US Open champion Daniil Medvedev whose skill and, in particularly, steadiness carried him to Grand Slam glory.

But Cressy, who couldn’t even earn a place on the UCLA tennis team in his freshman year, plans to live or die by his attacking verve against the Russian second seed after pounding down an impressive 28 aces in the third round.

“Yeah, my mindset is to go for it and that’s my game,” the 24-year-old said. “I feel like on the good days it’s very difficult to beat that style of play going for both serves. The more I do it, the more natural it is and I feel like, with that game style, it’s very tough for the opponents to have any control.

“I’ve been developing that game-style for three, four years and it’s paying off, especially on the good days it’s very, very efficient.”

Cressy avoids being distracted by referring to a notebook when seated at the change of ends.

“It’s one of my routines to be in the present in those kind of conditions with the crowd and everything, the mind can wander really easily,” Cressy said. “So I try not to look at what the opponent does because, especially when I’m very efficient on my serve and volley, they try different things to get in my head and, if I focus on them, it disrupts my game.”

The quirky Medvedev gave the impression he will be intrigued to face a net-rushing foe in their showcourt duel.

“I do think it’s possible to be a top player like this. But like no matter what you do, slice, serve and volley, or return good, if you want to be at the top, top, you need to make it almost perfect because other guys will try to break you and your style,” he said.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Pegula’s sports align ahead of Australian Open quarterfinals