Shelby Rogers, the 57th-ranked player from South Carolina, saw that her friends had advanced and, not wanting to be left behind, went out and beat the No. 21 seed Anett Kontaveit on the first night match at Rod Laver Arena.
“I think there is this little bit of aura around the second week of a slam,” said Rogers, 28, who has reached the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam twice, at the 2016 French Open and the 2020 United States Open. Her fourth-round opponent will be the world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty of Australia.
Pegula, 27, is the only one of the U.S. trio who is breaking new ground by reaching the fourth round in singles. She upset No. 13 Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, in her opening match and has dropped 13 games in three matches. She said the groundwork for her victory on Saturday was laid in her straight-sets defeat to Petra Kvitova, a former world No. 2, in the third round of the U.S. Open last year.
“With women’s tennis, I think the depth is so good right now,” said Pegula, whose next opponent is the fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina. “Sometimes figuring out how to scrape by the first week is really important when you’re not playing well. I think the best players find ways to win on their worst days.”
Nadal, the world No. 2 who is bidding for a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, has found a way to scrape by during the first week with a balky back. His opponent on Saturday night was his British doppelgänger, Cameron Norrie, a lefthander who hits with a heavy topspin and defends well.
Norrie, 25, has never advanced past the third round and his breakthrough will have to wait. Nadal, 34, handed him a 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 defeat at Rod Laver Arena. Norrie described the match as a good experience and said he’ll take “a lot” of positives from it. “I left the court feeling like I want to get better,” Norrie said.
He added, “I did everything to try to make the second week. Rafa was too good.”