Jessica Pegula is out of the 2023 Italian Open in Rome after her first match as compatriot Taylor Townsend outclassed her.
The world no. 3 had a quarterfinal run in Madrid and she wanted to follow up on that at the WTA 1000 event in Rome, but she faced a player who beat her in their only meeting and wanted to follow up on that win also on the clay courts of Foro Italico, Taylor Townsend.
The 27-year-old American has been enjoying a lot of success recently, breaking into the Top 10 of the WTA Rankings in doubles, right behind Coco Gauff and Pegula, who was also her second-round opponent at the 2023 Italian Open, after she eliminated Ysaline Bonaventure in the first round.
Before the first-round match, Townsend succeeded also in the qualifying and thanks to leading the H2H, she was certainly coming into the match against the third-seeded Pegula with a lot of confidence.
And even though that confidence wasn't visible in the first two games, the tables quickly turned. Pegula was up 2-0 after an early break, but Townsend won the following 7 games, taking the first set 6-2 and building a one-break lead also in the second set.
But the highest-ranked American surely didn't want to lose to her compatriot ranked as world no. 168, despite her undeniable qualities. Pegula broke back in the second set and after she added one more break in the last four games which all went into a deuce, she won the second set 6-3 and took the match into a decider.
But Townsend flew into the third set and never looked back. She won 14 of the first 15 rallies in the set and thanks to that she built a 3-0, 30-0 lead. Although she was not able to add another break, a one-break advantage was enough for her as she served almost flawlessly in the reminder of the set.
After an hour and 56 minutes, Townsend beat Pegula 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the third round of the 2023 Italian Open in Rome. Her next opponent will be Xiyu Wang from China who eliminated the 31st-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania.