Indian Wells: Navarro Stuns Sabalenka, Gauff Enters Quarters - Eastern Mirror
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Indian Wells: Navarro stuns Sabalenka, Gauff enters quarters

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By IANS Updated: Mar 14, 2024 6:05 pm
Indian Wells
Photo: IANS

INDIAN WELLS — American tennis sensation Emma Navarro defeated world number two Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 3-6 6-2 to secure her spot in ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Paribas Open for the first time in her career.

Meanwhile, Coco Gauff celebrated her 20th birthday in style, dominating her opponent to advance with ease.

Navarro, known for her composed demeanor on the court, faced the formidable challenge of Sabalenka’s powerful serve. However, she remained unfazed, capitalizing on four of her five break-point opportunities to clinch victory in windy conditions. The opening six games of the match were tight with neither player getting a break point chance until Navarro made the breakthrough to go 5-3 up after a string of errors from Sabalenka.

Despite Sabalenka’s resurgence in the second set, Navarro maintained her composure, sealing the win with a crucial service hold and a fourth break point conversion on match point.

The victory is Navarro’s best by ranking and boosted into a fourth quarterfinal on the season and first of her career at the WTA 1000 level. As if those milestones weren’t enough to underline just how good the Charleston native’s 2024 season has been, she now leads the Hologic WTA Tour with 18 wins.

“It’s a little bit unnatural for me to be in the spotlight and be playing on a court like that with a ton of fans and TVs and eyes on me. It’s not my natural way,” she told reporters.

“But I feel I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it and just feeling like I can be myself even if there’s however many people watching.

The 23rd-seeded Navarro’s triumph sets up a tantalizing quarterfinal clash with either Maria Sakkari or Diane Parry.

Gauff defeated Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the first set of a 24-minute WTA 1000 competition, sealing a rare bagel at this stage. It was all one-way traffic from there on. At Indian Wells, on her 20th birthday, Coco Gauff easily defeated Elise Mertens in straight sets, while Aryna Sabalenka was unexpectedly eliminated.

Gauff advanced to the final eight for the second straight year, dropping just two games en route to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Mertens.

“I played really well. I feel really good. My best match of the tournament so far and I’m so happy to win on my birthday,” Gauff told the reporters.

“I feel like I’m close to my best level and when I’m playing like that it’s hard to beat me.”

Gauff will face either 11th-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina or unseeded Yuan Yue of China for a spot in the semis.

Indian Wells: Rune stages epic comeback to upset Fritz

Indian Wells
Photo: IANS

INDIAN WELLS — Seventh seed Holger Rune showcased his resilience and tenacity as he fought back from the brink of defeat to stun home favourite Taylor Fritz 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 to reach his fifth ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Paribas Open.

The young Danish sensation saved a match point in a gripping encounter that left fans at Indian Wells on the edge of their seats.

Despite a slow start and a barrage of unforced errors in the opening set, Rune refused to buckle under pressure. With Fritz dominating the court with his first-strike tennis, Rune dug deep, staying focused and determined.

Facing a daunting match point at 4-5 in the second set, Rune summoned all his mental strength and delivered a clutch performance, capitalizing on a missed return from Fritz to stay alive in the contest. Energized by his newfound momentum, Rune seized control of the match, pushing Fritz to the limit with his aggressive baseline play.

The decider saw Rune maintain his aggressive stance, relentlessly attacking Fritz’s second serve. In a pivotal moment, he secured the decisive break to surge ahead, claiming victory and sending shockwaves through the tournament.

Speaking after his remarkable comeback, Rune expressed his elation at overcoming adversity and praised his opponent’s formidable game. Looking ahead to his quarter-final clash against fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, Rune remained unfazed, emphasizing his attacking mindset and determination to take on any challenge.

“It was crazy. Really just stayed in the moment, kept fighting,” Rune said in his on-court interview. “Tried to play from point to point and I thought I managed to raise my level quite amazingly at the end of the second set.”

The World No. 7 in the PIF ATP Rankings brought the Indian Wells crowd alive with his energy and shotmaking as he levelled his Lexus ATP head-to-head series with Fritz at 1-1.

“He was controlling it from the first set and a long time of the second set as well. I’m just happy that I kept fighting and kept believing that I was going to find my rhythm at some point,” said Rune, who hit 29 winners.

Rune will next meet fourth seed and last year’s finalist Daniil Medvedev in the quarters, which will mark the Dane’s first Masters 1000 quarter-final appearance outside of Europe. The pair split their first two meetings, which both were on clay.

6091
By IANS Updated: Mar 14, 2024 6:05:49 pm
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