WATCH: Pegula began her week in Miami with a decisive win over Sloane Stephens, and is yet to drop a set.

Paula Badosa admitted she was under the weather after an otherwise emphatic performance in the fourth round and that illness ultimately caught up to her in the Miami Open quarterfinals when she retired to American Jessica Pegula, trailing 1-4 in the opening set.

“Of course, it’s not nice to win that way,” Pegula said to open her on-court interview. “It’s the first time I’ve ever even hit with her at all, so I was really looking forward to playing. She’s been having an amazing year and she’s an incredible competitor; I think we all saw that last round where she clearly wasn’t feeling well and she was able to tough it out. I admire that a lot about there and hopefully next time we can both play when we’re healthy and feeling good, and have a great match.”

Badosa broke to open the match on Hard Rock Stadium but was soon on the back foot as Pegula, one of the tour’s most consistent forces in this post-lockdown era, reeled off 12 of 13 points to earn a break of her own. The Spaniard, who was a win away from wrestling world No. 2 away from Barbora Krejcikova, briefly consulted with the trainer before conceding the match.

Take little away from Pegula, though; even had Badosa been healthy, this was going to be a tricky match for the No. 5 seed fresh off a decidedly more straightforward encounter with 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova. While the young Czech was undoubtedly overawed in the biggest match of her career, Pegula has become exponentially more accustomed to the big stages—especially one that doubles as a football field.

“I’m sure some of you guys know I’ve been here before on this field in a different scenario,” joked Pegula, whose family owns the Buffalo Bills, a team that put down a 35-0 score on the Hard Rock Stadium’s Miami Dolphins last September. “I’m sure we have some Bills fans here. It’s come full circle, and it’s nice to get another win in this stadium.”


There’s so many good players and so much depth, that the ability to play week in and week out and find your rhythm is really important. Jessica Pegula

There was a time when Pegula, perennially snakebitten by knee and hip injuries, found wins hard to come by. Two years would pass between a breakthrough run to Charleston’s third round in 2013 and her Grand Slam main draw debut, and it would take another five before she would win back-to-back matches at a major, the 2020 US Open.

Since then, the 28-year-old is making up for lost time in a big way, making consecutive Australian Open quarterfinal appearances along with a Top 20 debut. This run to the semis in Miami is her second at a WTA 1000, and the Buffalo native will be keen to erase the near-miss she suffered last summer in Toronto and reach the biggest final of her career.

“The last two and a half, three years, I really just started getting healthy, which I think is so big nowadays,” she told Andrew Krasny on court. “There’s so many good players and so much depth, that the ability to play week in and week out and find your rhythm is really important. For me, that was definitely the biggest thing, and then a couple big wins started to come. That confidence comes with it, and you just try to keep that for as long as you can.”

Standing between her and a place in the final will be another tough opponent as ascendant world No. 1 Iga Swiatek takes on former world No. 2 Petra Kvitova this evening to close out women’s quarterfinal action in Florida.