Spain’s Paula Badosa kept her Indian Wells WTA title defense on track on Tuesday, holding off determined Canadian Leylah Fernandez to reach the quarter-finals in the California desert after a 6-4, 6-4 win.
Badosa, seeded fifth, saved five of the six break points she faced and kept last year’s US Open runner-up under pressure – converting three of her 12 break chances.
“Today was very tough,” said Badosa, who lifted the trophy last October in a tournament moved from its usual March date because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Leylah is an amazing player, very fast and good timing. I knew I had to fight and serve very well. I think I did that the entire match.”
Badosa gained the upper hand in the second set with a break for 3-2, then saved a pair of break points in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead.
“In the important moments, like 4-3, down the break points, I think I stayed very composed,” Badosa said.
World No 4 Iga Swiatek, the highest-ranked player remaining in the women’s field, rallied from a set down for a third straight match to book her quarter-final berth, beating crafty German veteran Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, is coming off a title in Doha last month, but the 20-year-old admitted it took her a while to figure out how to tackle Kerber - another former Grand Slam champion.
“Truth be told, I wasn’t really sure what my tactics should be, if I should be more aggressive or play a more patient game,” she said. “But at the end I think I made the right decision at the right time, in right moments of the match.”
She said Kerber showed her a different game than she’d expected after practicing with the German.
“I felt like she wanted to use her experience and kind of trick me,” Swiatek said. “But I like that because it’s like a new experience for me.”
Swiatek next faces American Madison Keys, who beat British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-4.
Former World No 1 Simona Halep of Romania, seeded 24th, swept into the quarter-finals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over 26th-seeded compatriot Sorana Cirstea.
Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion is in the quarterfinals for the fifth time at Indian Wells, where she lifted the trophy in 2015.
Halep will play Petra Martic for a place in the semi-finals. Croatia’s Martic beat Liudmila Samsonova 7-6(6), 6-4.
Sixth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece advanced with a victory over Australian qualifier Daria Saville, who was trailing 4-1 when she retired with a left thigh injury.
Sakkari will play Elena Rybakina, who beat Viktorija Golubic 7-6(5), 6-2.
Berrettini in fourth round
In ATP Masters action, sixth-ranked Matteo Berrettini shook off mid-match doldrums to reach the fourth round.
Berrettini, the highest-ranked player left in his half of the draw, defeated South African Lloyd Harris 6-4, 7-5.
The 25-year-old Italian, owner of five ATP titles but seeking his first Masters 1000 crown, shot to prominence when he reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021, losing to Novak Djokovic.
The Australian Open semi-finalist is the second-highest ranked man left in the draw behind fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal.
But he admitted he’ll need to do better after a victory in which he trailed 4-1 in the second set.
“I got a little bit nervous,” he said. “I didn’t like how I handled the start of the second set. I let the anger out a little bit, which helped.
“I found the right balance in order to break him in the important moment and I then had the momentum.”
A dozen aces also helped as Berrettini won five straight games to secure the victory and set up a fourth round clash with Miomir Kecmanovic, a 7-6(3), 7-5 winner over Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands.
In other men’s matches, American John Isner powered past Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3.
Isner, who towered over his opponent by 38 centimeters, fired 13 aces and didn’t face a break point.
Isner is one of four US men into the last 16 along Taylor Fritz, Jenson Brooksby and Reilly Opelka – who will take on Nadal on Wednesday.