Pegula, whose family owns Bills, honors Hamlin in Australia

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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MELBOURNE, Australia – Jessica Pegula has Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on her mind – and his No. 3 jersey number on her outfit – at the Australian Open.

Pegula, whose parents own the NFL’s Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, is wearing a white screen-printed patch with Hamlin’s uniform number on her black skirt while she competes at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field when he collapsed after making a tackle during a game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2. He spent more than a week in the hospital, part of that time in critical condition, before being able to go home.

“I definitely wanted to do something,” Pegula said Wednesday after reaching the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

“We were kind of figuring out what the Bills and the Sabres were doing, just as far as what was the message. I knew they would probably do something and what message were they trying to send. It ended up being kind of the `3′ was the symbol,” said Pegula, a 28-year-old who was born in New York and now is based in Florida.

“I just thought it would be cool to put on my outfit here. I thought it would be a fun way to kind of connect with the team and then also just show my support,” she said. “I felt like it was such a global event.”

Pegula reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open each of the past two years, equaling her best result at any Grand Slam tournament.

She is currently a career-best No. 3 in the rankings – a coincidence that drew some reactions Pegula found amusing.

“I saw someone tweet that: `Why would you put your ranking on your skirt?’ I’m, like, `No, that’s not why,”‘ Pegula said with a laugh.

She said she watched the Bills’ win over the Miami Dolphins in the wild-card round on TV before playing her first match in Melbourne. Buffalo’s next playoff game is Sunday against the visiting Bengals.

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.