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Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula into Australian Open’s 2nd round

 Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff made strong starts to their quests for a first Grand Slam singles title as they reached the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.

Third-seeded Pegula overwhelmed Jaqueline Cristian of Romania 6-0, 6-1, while seventh-seeded Gauff overcame a second-set wobble to defeat Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 6-4.

The two Americans could meet in the semifinals.

A quarterfinalist in Melbourne in each of the past two years, Pegula needed just 59 minutes to get past the 161st-ranked Cristian, who was appearing in her third Grand Slam event.

“Today is just one of those days everything was working,” stated the American, who will play either Czech qualifier Brenda Fruhvirtova or Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.

Gauff, who reached her first Grand Slam singles final at the French Open last year, was given the honor of opening proceedings on Rod Laver Arena and dominated Siniakova in the first set.

The Czech player led 4-2 in the second set, but Gauff rallied and clinched victory on her seventh match point.

“I was not expecting to open the tournament on Rod Laver,” Gauff said. “I’m super honored that the tournament chose me and Katerina. I’m really pleased with myself. Katerina’s a fighter, I knew she was going to fight for every point. I just stayed strong mentally.”

Gauff will now play former US Open champion Emma Raducanu after the British player shrugged off a bothersome left ankle issue to defeat Tamara Korpatsch of Germany 6-3, 6-2.

Steve Carr

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