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Pegula, Keys easily advance; No. 7 Garcia ousted

NEW YORK — Third seed Jessica Pegula and former finalist Madison Keys each punched their tickets into the second round of the US Open with routine victories Tuesday that bolstered hopes for a homegrown winner at the year’s final grand slam.

Pegula, whose US Open tune-up included a triumph in Montreal just over two weeks ago, earned a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Italy’s Camila Giorgi shortly after 2017 runner-up Keys beat Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 6-2, 6-4.

An American woman has not won the US Open since Sloane Stephens beat compatriot Keys in the 2017 final, but Pegula has shown she just may be hitting her stride at the perfect time after making light work of world No. 52 Giorgi.

“I think we are all hoping that we hit the right form going into a slam, especially if you get through the first week trying to hit that stride in the second week,” Pegula said during her on-court interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium. “But you never really know what’s going to happen.

“Tennis is so day-to-day — you can feel great one week and then you can feel terrible the next. So you are just tying to really get through the first few rounds and try and get better each match.”

Pegula showcased top-quality footwork and movement as she went up a double break for a 5-2 lead in the opening set before serving out with a hold to love that she punctuated with a stinging backhand winner down the line.

In the second set, Pegula struck first when she converted her seventh break chance of a 26-point game that lasted 18 minutes to open up a 3-2 lead, and then broke again before closing it on her serve with another hold to love.

At Louis Armstrong Stadium, Keys went up a double break for an early 3-0 lead en route to sealing the opener in 32 minutes and never looked back as the 17th seed got the break she needed for a 3-2 lead in the second before relying on her serve the rest of the way.

No. 5 seed Ons Jabeur, who lost in last year’s final to Iga Swiatek, was checked by a trainer and was coughing and blowing her nose during her match before getting past Camila Osorio 7-5, 7-6 (4). She said she has the flu and a history of asthma, calling it a “a very, very tough day.”

“To be honest with you, I just thought: Just put the ball in and see what happens,” Jabeur said.

She found a way through, unlike Leylah Fernandez, the runner-up in 2021, who was eliminated by No. 22 Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4.

Also ousted was No. 7 Caroline Garcia, a 2022 US Open semifinalist who was routed 6-4, 6-1 by Chinese qualifier Yafan Wang.

Garcia, who two months after last year’s US Open went on to claim the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals, was undone by 34 unforced errors against Wang, who is ranked No. 114.

With the loss, Garcia will fall from the top 10 of the rankings to outside the top 20.

Wang, a former world No. 47 who missed seven months of action in 2022 and was ranked 696th in March, has a 57-10 record across all levels this year, including titles in five ITF events and the WTA 125 tournament in Stanford two weeks ago.

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, the No. 9 seed, advanced easily by knocking out qualifier Na-Lae Han 6-3, 6-0 in an hour.

The schedule also featured a number of veteran US Open champions. Venus Williams, 43, who won two of her seven Grand Slam singles titles at Flushing Meadows, was scheduled to play before Carlos Alcaraz on Arthur Ashe Stadium against qualifier Greet Minnen of Belgium.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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