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Pegula eyes Open run after third-round win

Jessica Pegula is challenging her billionaire father’s NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, to match her Australian Open success after the American marched into the fourth round for the second straight year.

Pegula is the highest-ranked American man or woman still alive in the Open singles draws and on track to match her 2021 run when she made the quarter-finals in a career-best grand slam showing.

She lost to eventual finalist and fellow American Jennifer Brady, who is missing this year with a foot injury.

Pegula, seeded 21st, overcame Spanish veteran Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 on Friday to set up a fourth-round clash with Maria Sakkari.

The fifth seed again benefited from the support of the the vocal contingent of Greek-Australians in the crowd as she overcame Russian No.28 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 6-1.

Pegula is keeping a close eye on the Bills, who remain in the hunt for next month’s Super Bowl after a 28-year absence.

They played four Super Bowls straight between 1991 and 1994 but suffered repeated heartbreak.

With a family wealth of over $5 billion, her parents, Terry and Kim, built their fortune in oil and gas.

They beat the likes of Donald Trump and rocker Jon Bon Jovi to buy the Bills, while they also own NHL side the Buffalo Sabres.

“Coincidence I’m in Bills colours?” Pegula tweeted about her red, white and blue attire after her round two win.

She followed that up on Friday with a message for the team that she signed on the court television camera following the win.

“Bills you’re next”, she scribbled, adding a smiley face.

Pegula then tweeted a photo of it, tagging the Buffalo Bills with the hashtag #BillsMafia.

It’s just the second time Pegula has reached the final 16 of a grand slam, although last year she also made the third round at the French and US Opens to jump to a career-high ranking of 18.

The 27-year-old has only played in 12 grand slams in total, with her early career cruelled by injury including a hip issue that required surgery and left her sidelined for 18 months.

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