Pegula and Gauff cruise into Miami Open third round
March 23 (Reuters) - Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff secured straight-sets victories over Canadians on Thursday to book their spots in the third round of the Miami Open, while Indian Wells champion Elena Rybakina battled to a win over Anna Kalinskaya.
Third seed Pegula beat qualifier Katherine Sebov 6-3 6-1 and will next face fellow American Danielle Collins, while sixth seed Gauff eased past Rebecca Marino 6-4 6-3 to set up a battle with Russia's Anastasia Potapova.
Pegula, a semi-finalist last year in Miami who lives about 40 minutes away from the tournament venue, converted five of her nine break point opportunities and found her groove as her first career match against Sebov wore on.
"(I) fought through some tricky moments in the first set but then I think I started to free up after that," Pegula said in her on-court interview.
Gauff, who also resides in Southeast Florida and is coming off a run to the quarter-finals in Indian Wells, converted five of her nine break point chances and twice came back from a break down in the second set.
"Playing at home is something I look forward to but it's also a little extra pressure because you know everybody wants you to do well here," Gauff said.
With the victory, the 19-year-old Gauff broke a stalemate with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and now holds the record for most wins (34) at WTA 1000 events before turning 20.
In other second-round action, Belgian Elise Mertens beat Russian eighth seed Daria Kasatkina while Latvian 24th seed Jelena Ostapenko, Spanish 21st seed Paula Badosa and China's Zheng Qinwen, the 23rd seed, also advanced.
RYBAKINA EYES 'SUNSHINE DOUBLE'
Later on Thursday, Wimbledon champion Rybakina, fresh off her triumph at Indian Wells, closed out the evening session with a hard-fought 7-5 4-6 6-3 win over Russia's Kalinskaya.
Kalinskaya tested the world number seven throughout the contest and broke early on, but with the Russian leading at 5-3, Rybakina was able to raise her level and win four straight games to take the first set.
Rybakina's resurgence briefly took the wind out of Kalinskaya's sails, and the Russian gifted her opponent a 3-1 lead in the second set with a couple of errant shots.
With her back against the wall, Kalinskaya mounted a spirited comeback to pull ahead at 5-4 before holding serve to level the match.
The pair traded breaks early in the decider, but Rybakina got over the finish line after more than two hours on court, breaking to take a 5-3 lead and then completing the job when Kalinskaya sent a backhand into the stands.
"It's not easy, I had just two days to adapt (after Indian Wells)," Rybakina said in her on-court interview.
"It was a tough match. I'm really happy I could win in the end. I had the opportunity to close in two sets but I made some silly mistakes and she really returned well."
If Rybakina lifts the title in Miami, she would become only the fifth woman to win the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments back-to-back, a feat known as the "Sunshine Double" given the tournaments' locations in California and Florida.
Rybakina next faces Spain's Badosa.
On the men's side, Chilean qualifier Cristian Garin, who made a surprising run to the fourth round at Indian Wells, beat Marcos Giron 6-2 2-6 6-4 to reach the second round in Miami.
Austrian wildcard Dominic Thiem's struggles continued as he was beaten 7-6(7) 6-2 by Italy's Lorenzo Sonego, while Frenchman Richard Gasquet claimed a 6-4 3-6 6-1 win over Australian lucky loser Christopher O'Connell.
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