She’s part of one of America’s richest families – now Jessica Pegula has guaranteed a $525,000 payday of her own and a shot at glory with her 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 upset win over fifth seed Elina Svitolina.
Pegula’s one and only prior meeting with the world No.5, coming in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, ended in a straight sets defeat, but a month and change later and it was Pegula who powered her way to victory.
Having never previously made it to the fourth round of a grand slam, the 26-year-old and world No.61 will now make her bid for a debut appearance in a slam semi-final – although it’ll be a different ‘bid’ of sorts to that her family put in for NFL franchise the Buffalo Bills.
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Pegula’s father Terry is a billionaire businessman who made his money in the fracking business before selling the bulk of his oil and gas company East Resources for more than $5 billion AUD.
Terry founded the company in 1983 with a loan of $7500 before turning it into the mouthwatering sum above – a meteoric rise Jessica is emulating in a tennis sense at Melbourne Park this month.
In 2014, Terry outbid rival suitors Donald Trump and Bon Jovi to purchase NFL franchise the Buffalo Bills for $1.4 billion USD – three years after he secured the Buffalo Sabres for $189 million USD.
The unseeded Pegula is rapidly gaining the attention of the tennis world with her barnstorming run to the quarterfinals, during which she has taken out two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, former US Open champion Sam Stosur and former world No.10 Kristina Mladenovic before her win over Svitolina.
Pegula, who had never had a win over a top-10 player before the Australian Open, considered giving up tennis after a harrowing run with knee and hip injuries, with the latter forcing her to spend a year-and-a-half in recovery.
In her first ever main draw berth at the Australian Open, Pegula is finally realising her potential in a warning sign to the rest of the tour.
Pegula’s win means that world number one and local hope Ash Barty will have to face no top 10 seeds en route to the final.
With the top-10 monkey off her back, however, Pegula looms as a significant obstacle for Barty, who in 2020 lost to an American outsider in the semi-finals.