Aryna Sabalenka inches closer toward return to Indian Wells final

League: Tennis

Posted on: 12 Mar, 2024 at 06:07 AM

Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

Second-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka continued her charge back to the BNP Paribas Open final, beating Great Britain's Emma Raducanu 6-3, 7-5 on Monday in a third-round match in Indian Wells, Calif.

Sabalenka came up just short of the title last year, falling to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the championship match.

On Monday, Sabalenka overcame a 5-4 deficit in the second set, prevailing on her fourth match point. She finished the match with eight aces and saved nine of 10 break points, preventing Raducanu from getting her first victory over a top-10 opponent.

Raducanu has faced six top-10 foes in her career.

"I know that (Raducanu's) level is there, and she can play some great tennis," Sabalenka said. "But on those key moments, I was focusing on myself and things that I have to do on court to be in this match, and I think it's worked well."

No. 3 seed Coco Gauff of the United States also won in straight sets, knocking off Italy's Lucia Bronzetti 6-2, 7-6 (5). Gauff saved 10 of 11 break points and won 40 of 54 first-serve points.

When Gauff faces No. 24 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium on Wednesday, it will be her 20th birthday.

"I don't know," Gauff said, referring to what she wants for her birthday. "I'm just happy to be alive. I'm really happy to see 20.

"I don't want to jinx it. Hopefully I'll see 20."

No. 11 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia narrowly avoided an upset, rallying to oust American Sloane Stephens 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. China's Yue Yuan also completed a comeback, topping American Caroline Dolehide 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Meanwhile, Mertens defeated Japan's Naomi Osaka 7-5, 6-4. Diane Parry of France also moved on, getting past Russian Anna Blinkova, 6-4, 6-3.

In late matches, No. 9 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece downed French 20th seed Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-4, and 23rd-seeded Emma Navarro of the United States topped 16th-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

--Field Level Media