Roland Garros Day 3 preview: Aryna Sabalenka vs. Jessica Pegula

Roland Garros Day 3 preview: Aryna Sabalenka vs. Jessica Pegula

The Belarusian will look to avenge her Western & Southern Open loss to the American in this heavy-hitting first-round clash.

Jessica Pegula will have to share the court with Aryna Sabalenka for the fourth consecutive tournament. The two recently faced off in doubles in Lexington and the US Open, with Pegula sneaking in a singles victory over the Belarusian at the Western & Southern Open. There are no secrets between these two heavy hitters, not that there were many to begin with. Both players will bring their ultra-aggressive power game to the Parisian clay. 

If there was a power rating for a player’s attributes, both Pegula and Sabalenka would rate in the high 90’s. Their speed/defense rating, however, would be on the lower side. Both players create and absorb pace with ease, so whoever delivers the first strike, and gets their opponent on the run, should have the advantage in the baseline rallies. It’s difficult to beat either player hitting through the court, so sharp angles could become an important theme in this match, just like this forehand from Sabalenka in their last meeting.

But things will be different in the slow and damp conditions in Paris. Groundstrokes won’t have the same zip with the cold temperature and heavy Wilson balls. Neither player enjoys spending time at the net, so both players would be wise to mix in short slices as bait. In the clip below, see how Sabalenka got herself caught in no-man's-land after refusing to approach the net.

On the flip side, Sabalenka found success when she brought Pegula to the net.

According to UTR, this matchup is as close as it gets, with Sabalenka owning the slightly higher win probability. Pegula opted not to play any warm up tournaments on clay, while Sabalenka found her footing in Strasbourg before falling to Elina Svitolina in the semifinal. This could prove to be costly for the American, as the transition from hard to clay is never an easy one. Expect the Belarusian to pull through in a heavy-hitting affair. 

The Pick: Aryna Sabalenka