Tennis: No longer the young American, Pegula keen to make up for lost time

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[February 13, 2021]    MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Jessica Pegula considered giving up tennis after being sidelined through injury for long spells earlier in her career and the American said she is determined to make every second count at the Australian Open after reaching the fourth round on Saturday.

Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in action during her first round match against Belarus' Victoria Azarenka REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Pegula, who is making her main draw debut at Melbourne Park, advanced with a 6-2 6-1 victory over France's Kristina Mladenovic on Saturday, setting up a meeting with fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

Her career was stalled by a series of knee and hip injuries, spending a year-and-a-half in recovery after having surgery on her hip.

"The last one, my hip, was definitely the hardest to come back from," Pegula told a news conference. "When I first realised I was probably going to have to get surgery, I was down and out for a couple days.

"I didn't even know if I wanted to come back. This was just going to be so hard. I think I just got over it. I was like, whatever, I'm just going to fight through it again."

After spending so much time away from the game due to injury, Pegula said people thought she was still young.

"I'm like, I'm not that young. I think I turn 27 later this month. 'You're the young American.' I'm not that young any more," she said.

"I think because I was out at such pivotal times when I was younger, I do feel like I missed out, and these are all new experiences. Maybe I would have gotten there sooner."

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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