Emma Navarro stuns Aryna Sabalenka to reach Indian Wells quarters

League: Tennis

Posted on: 14 Mar, 2024 at 04:26 AM

Credit: Taya Gray/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rising American Emma Navarro recorded the biggest victory of her career on Wednesday as she took down No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif.

Navarro converted 4 of 5 break opportunities while stunning Belarus' Sabalenka, the world No. 2 who won the Australian Open for the second straight year in January. It was the 23rd-ranked Navarro's first career win over a Top 5 player.

Navarro, 22, was the stronger player in the third set but said she wasn't as cool on the inside as she looked on the outside.

"There were definitely some emotions going on that I don't necessarily show," Navarro said on the Tennis Channel. "I'm feeling all the feels, I just like to keep it to myself.

"That's how I've always naturally been ... I think it serves me well out there."

The victory will propel Navarro into the Top 20 for the first time in her young career. She also is 18-5 in singles matches this season, including winning the Hobart International in January for her first career title.

Navarro had 22 winners against 14 unforced errors, while Sabalenka committed 34 unforced errors while hitting 38 winners.

"I was able to stay aggressive on returns even though she has a really good serve," Navarro said. "... Just was able to put a lot of pressure on her and that's what made the difference."

Navarro turned pro in 2022. She won the NCAA singles title in 2021 for Virginia, the same school that produced two-time NCAA singles champion Danielle Collins (2014, 2016).

Next up for Navarro will be No. 9 Maria Sakkari of Greece, who got past France's Diane Parry 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Another U.S. player cruised into the quarterfinals as third-seeded Coco Gauff routed 24th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-0, 6-2 in 66 minutes. Gauff's quarterfinal foe will be China's Yue Yuan, who rallied to upset 11th-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

--Field Level Media