Pegula Allen Split

World No. 21 Jessica Pegula is impressively back in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the second year running. But with the 2021 edition of the tournament having been staged in mid-February, due to a pandemic-induced postponement, this run during its traditional spot on the calendar comes with a special source of inspiration: the NFL playoffs.

It’s widely known in tennis circles by now that Pegula’s parents, Kim and Terry, are the owners of the Buffalo Bills. Much like Pegula the last few years, the Bills have been on the rise, and Sunday, they hope to take another step forward towards their version of lifting an inaugural major against the host Kansas City Chiefs. As fate would have it, Pegula, who is 17 hours ahead in Melbourne, has the freedom to tailor her schedule accordingly without a match to play Monday.

“I will take time to make sure I watch them, then hit later in the day afterwards,” she told press Sunday after taking down fifth seed Maria Sakkari, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

“It's nice that it's on TV here, the playoffs. It's been pretty easy to watch.”


Following her third-round win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz, Pegula gave her Buffalo squad a worldwide shoutout:


Bills you're next :) Jessica Pegula's message on the camera lens

It was a personal way of keeping connected to her loved ones and the Buffalo sports nuts back home, despite the significant distance and time difference.

“My sister is here, but the rest of my family is in Kansas City. It's cool to kind of see them in another big situation, then me in a big situation today,” she said.

“Obviously it's better when you're winning in those positions. But it's a cool thing to look forward to. It's fun to get the fans involved because there's not a lot of tennis in Buffalo. It's nice that everyone is fired up about me winning and fired up about the game. It makes it really fun.”

The visiting Bills come in having already avenged last season’s AFC Championship Game defeat to the Chiefs on the road during Week 5 of the regular season with a decisive 38-20 win at Arrowhead Stadium. Whether they can replicate that success in the postseason will be decided by one key intangible according to Pegula: the headspace of the man behind center wearing No. 17.

“I think it will be up a lot to Josh Allen, how he plays, his decision making out there. I think our defense was always going to be good, but we're going to have to score points to beat them,” she assessed. “I think it's kind of up to him to see how he leads the team.

“Handling the crowd and the home team there is going to be rough. Kansas City is always a hard place to play. I think it's just going to come down to decision making and competing like most games.”


Pegula's win over Sakkari erased the painful memory of failing to convert six match points against the Greek in their 2021 Miami fourth-rounder.

Pegula's win over Sakkari erased the painful memory of failing to convert six match points against the Greek in their 2021 Miami fourth-rounder. 

Pegula has stepped into her fair share of road environments over her career, and come Tuesday, she'll unequivocally faces a one-sided audience of her own. It’s for good reason, as world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty is once again six sets away from becoming the first Australian woman to win the singles title in 44 years.

Pegula, who was the first opponent Barty defeated en route to her breakthrough 2019 Roland Garros title, won’t be easily fazed by the lack of support.

“I've never really been one to get too interactive with the crowd, not in a bad way, but their stuff doesn't really bother me,” said Pegula. “Today, the fans were pretty again for Maria. They're like, ‘Double-fault’, in between serves and stuff like that. I could kind of chuckle, Okay, I didn't double-fault, so it didn't work (smiling).

“I don't really pay attention. I think it will just be a fun atmosphere.”


When Barty won their 2019 French Open encounter, she was ranked No. 8. Pegula stood at No. 72.

When Barty won their 2019 French Open encounter, she was ranked No. 8. Pegula stood at No. 72. 

The 27-year-old, who notably lost her five sets to open 2022, is one of three American women still in the draw. Madison Keys also advanced to the final eight Sunday by routing Paula Badosa, and Danielle Collins can join the two Monday if she gets past Elise Mertens. With first-round exits by Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff, Pegula is in prime position to become the No. 1-ranked American for the first time, a noteworthy opportunity she admitted to keeping tabs on.

“I've looked at it. I'm like, ‘Okay, there's still a lot of Americans that could probably just win the Australian Open and take that over from me,’” she said. “But I did see the live rankings. I am the highest.

“It definitely was not a goal, but something really cool I was looking forward to getting the chance to do.”

Defeating Barty would help Pegula’s cause immensely in realizing that accomplishment, all while securing her best major result. If the Bills hold up on their end of the bargain, one might expect Allen and company to serve up a returned motivational message for Pegula ahead of her Rod Laver Arena showdown:

Jess you’re next :)