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USA's Jessica Pegula reacts after defeating Italy's Camila Giorgi in the US Open women's singles first round. Image Credit: AFP

New York: Jessica Pegula may be the top-ranked American at the US Open but the third seed says she is happy to let red-hot compatriot Coco Gauff carry some of the burden of expectation as they bid to end the country’s Grand Slam drought.

World No 3 Pegula and No 6 Gauff arrived in New York having won WTA 1000 titles to spark hopes of a first American women’s major champion since Sofia Kenin lifted the trophy at the 2020 Australian Open.

Pegula cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 opening win over Camila Giorgi on Tuesday — a day after Gauff rallied to beat Laura Siegemund — and the 29-year-old said that she did not mind the focus being on her frequent doubles partner at the tournament.

'I can't take the pressure'

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s good,” Pegula said with a smile. “Coco can take it, that pressure, not me. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t mind. She’s been winning a lot. I think she deserves a lot of that attention.

“She’s obviously very young. She’s been playing really well. She’s super electric to watch, loves the crowd and New York. No, I don’t really have a preference. Either way I think I want to continue to win matches and do the best that I can.

“It’s nice that even though I’m the top American, I can’t imagine carrying a ton of pressure if it was only me. It’s nice that there are a lot of us that are doing well and that have chances to go deep here.”

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Jessica Pegula hits a double-fisted backhand return to Camila Giorgi. Image Credit: AFP

Genuine friends

Pegula said the current crop of US women’s players — 13 of whom are in the top 100 — were genuine friends and driving each other towards success, just like their male colleagues.

“I think we’ve embraced the fact that though we’re all competing for rankings and tournaments… even if you play each other you want to beat each other, you’re pushing each other at the same time,” Pegula said.

“I think that’s something the guys are doing well with (Taylor) Fritz, (Tommy) Paul, (Frances) Tiafoe. You see them pushing each other and they’re all going higher and higher.”