Jessica Pegula drops funny but real Iga Swiatek comment after missing clay season

Pegula was out for two months due to a rib injury before returning to action in 's-Hertogenbosch this week.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Jessica Pegula drops funny but real Iga Swiatek comment after missing clay season
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

World No. 5 Jessica Pegula jokingly suggested she didn't miss much by basically skipping the entire clay season since Iga Swiatek dominated the clay swing as expected. 

After kicking off her clay season in the first week of the swing in Charleston, Pegula represented the United States in a Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers tie against Belgium. Although Pegula won both of her BJK Cup singles matches, she sustained a rib injury and ended up being sidelined until this week's WTA 250 tournament in 's-Hertogenbosch. 

While Pegula was working on recovering from a rib injury, world No. 1 Swiatek claimed back-to-back WTA 1000 titles in Madrid and Rome before also completing a three-peat at the French Open. For the second top-ranked American female tennis player, missing several important tournaments wasn't easy but at least she found comfort in knowing what would have happened had she managed to play. 

On Monday, No. 1 seed Pegula started her comeback and grass season with a dominant 6-2 6-2 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich in 's-Hertogenbosch. 

"Iga dominated the clay season, what else is new. Now we go into grass and I'm sure the grass-court players will do well. I feel like I'm walking back into the same kind of thing. That's good," Pegula told WTA Insider.

Jessica Pegula and Iga Swiatek
Jessica Pegula and Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Ryan Pierse
 

Pegula focused on being ready for the grass season 

After the BJK Cup weekend, Pegula had difficulty sleeping and she also experienced pain while breathing. After getting it scanned and visiting the doctor a couple of times, the doctors diagnosed the 30-year-old American tennis star with a cartilage irritation in her rib cage. 

Although it wasn't the most serious of problems, it had the potential to cause a stress fracture so the world No. 5 decided to play it safe - give herself time to recover - and focus on being fully ready for the grass season and the summer on hard courts. 

"The treatment for both of them is the same. So let's take the safe route, treat it like a stress fracture," Pegula explained. 

"It's just such a crazy year with the Olympics squeezed in. With my game, I'd rather be ready for grass and the rest of the hard-court season and grind out the rest of the year, than try and push it for clay and it doesn't feel well. That's why we played it safe."

Jessica Pegula
Jessica Pegula © Getty Images Sport - Michael Regan
 

However, Pegula missing the French Open didn't mean that she was far away from returning - the 30-year-old was practicing and preparing to play at Roland Garros but ultimately realized that the second Grand Slam of the season was a bit too early. 

"We were training as though I was going to play the French, but it was just a little too soon. I've been healthy for a few weeks now. If French had started a week later I would have been there for sure," Pegula said.

Pegula optimistic she can quickly find her level and game on the grass

When players are out of action for an extended time - or in Pegula's case two months - they usually feel rusty and it takes them time to rediscover their best game. 

But on Monday, Pegula barely showed any rust in her game in her first match back as she started her 's-Hertogenbosch first-round match by breaking Sasnovich twice to easily win the first set. In the second set, Pegula dropped her serve once but still pretty routinely completed a two-set win after breaking Sasnovich three times during the set.

And following her win over Sasnovich, Pegula confirmed that she felt pretty good out there. 

"I was doing a lot of on-court movement stuff, which was really good because when I came back to playing it didn't feel like I wasn't playing. I've done that before where I take a few weeks off and it's a rough first week where you just feel so bad. But this time I felt pretty good," Pegula said.

Jessica Pegula
Jessica Pegula © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

While Pegula remains confident that she can have a good grass season, she also acknowledges that she is aware that her competition didn't stop while she was sidelined. 

"I know in the long term I can play at a high level and I know I don't need to play those matches to feel like a top player, but at the same time when you see all those people going ahead of you, you do freak out a little bit," Pegula noted.

"I still have major anxiety that I've missed so many WTA 1000s this year and I have a great record at 1000s."

In the 's-Hertogenbosch round-of-16, Pegula plays against world No. 400 Aleksandra Krunic. Pegula has never played against former world No. 39 but she still enters the match as the big favorite to beat the Serb and progress into the 's-Hertogenbosch quarterfinal.

Jessica Pegula Iga Swiatek
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