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‘Reilly may be bored’ – Pegula dismisses Opelka’s doubles criticism with a smile

Jessica Pegula is Top 5 in the world in singles and doubles, and she came to the defence of the much-maligned doubles discipline in the face of another attack from a compatriot

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 02: Coco Gauff (USA) and Jessica Pegula (USA) discuss strategy during the WTA Finals on November 2, 2022 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX. (Icon SMI/Panoramic)

Reilly Opelka has been back on his hobby horse about scrapping doubles – but his compatriot Jessica Pegula isn’t paying too much attention to him.

Pegula (ranked world No 3 in singles and world No 5 in doubles) was asked about the latest calls to get rid of the discipline from Opelka (ranked world No 138 in singles, currently absent from the tour after a string of injuries, and once as high as world No 89 in doubles).

He has said previously that fans only watch doubles when it features top singles players or celebrated stars the Bryan brothers – but Pegula takes a rather broader view on the importance of doubles having a high profile for the benefit of the rest of the sport.

“I think Reilly may be a little bored. He has been hurt a little bit for a while,” she said in her press conference after beating Canada’s Katherine Sebov 6-3, 6-1 in the Miami Open Round of 64.

“I like Reilly, but he always likes to make these comments and get people talking, which I like that about him as well. He is not afraid to say what he wants.

“He is entitled to that opinion, but I personally love playing doubles. But, I could see his point, but at the same time I do think that tennis recreationally most players play doubles, so I think there is some sort of fan base there. I don’t really think we’ve tapped into that the best because everyone in South Florida, you look at all these leagues, all these women’s, ladies doubles leagues. It’s their whole life. It’s so popular. So I think there is something there. Maybe we just haven’t reached it.”

Pegula: Coco and I get great crowds

The 29-year-old added that doubles helped her singles game, and made her a more focused player.

“Playing with Coco [Gauff], the last year or so, we get great crowds. So for me it’s fun because our atmosphere is always pretty good. We do well. We have a lot of people that support us. But, also, it is because our singles rankings are also very high. It’s a Catch-22, I guess, in a way.

“I, again, love playing doubles. I love to stay in competition mode. I like to do that on an off day like tomorrow instead of just practise for an hour, like, mindlessly – think about the next match. I like staying in that mindset, so for me that’s what really helps me, and that’s why I love playing it, and I think I get to work on a lot of things. That’s why I prefer it.

“I know a lot of doubles players are super passionate and are very good athletes and do well and make a pretty good living playing. So I don’t agree with his rash comments personally. I like playing doubles, but that’s his opinion.”

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