Ever since she made her debut at Indian Wells in 2021, Paula Badosa has been virtually invincible. She’s been pushed to the brink at times, as she was in last year’s epic final with Victoria Azarenka, but the Spaniard always finds a way to prevail. Tonight was no different as the fifth-seeded Spaniard pushed her BNP Paribas Open title defense forward by battling past compatriot and good friend Sara Sorribes Tormo, 7-6(4), 6-1.
Badosa is locked in 🔒
— wta (@WTA) March 15, 2022
Badosa, who is bidding to complete the first successful women’s singles title defense at Indian Wells since Martina Navratilova in 1991, needed over 80 minutes to clear a grueling opening set, but once she got through she was able to use the momentum to finish off the world No.36 in relatively short order.
“It’s a lot of hard work paying off,” she said. “It’s still very tough. You can see today’s first set was one hour and a half. I really didn’t know what to do after that first set, I was like if every set is like that I think I’m going to die on the court.
“I knew I had to stay there, mentally I fought until the last point and that’s what gave me the match.”
Last year’s champion improves to 8-0 lifetime in main draw matches at Indian Wells. She will face either Leylah Fernandez in the round of 16.
Though she’ll need four more victories to secure the title, Badosa has already set a stern tone in her first two rounds in the California desert. Victory may not be guaranteed, but her fighting spirit – that’s a lock.
“When I retire I just want everyone to be remembered that I was a fighter, that’s what I want to show on court,” she said.
Fernandez Takes Revenge on Rogers
Canada’s Leylah Fernandez fell to Shelby Rogers in a third-set tiebreak in the round of 16 last October. But the Canadian, who entered tonight’s third-round match with a 0-2 lifetime record against Rogers, is a fast learner. She battled past the world No.49, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, in Monday’s nightcap on Stadium 1 to set a date with Badosa in the round of 16.
Badosa defeated Fernandez in their only previous meeting, in straight sets at Auckland, in 2020.
Sakkari Serves to Perfection in Victory over Kvitova
The hair bun pulled so tight that it angles her eyes skyward, Maria Sakkari plays with a similar tension in her game. Tightly wound and eminently forceful.
The Greek No.1 was all of that and more today as she rumbled past two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 6-0, on a bright sunny afternoon at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“It’s never easy against Petra,” Sakkari said on court, after improving to 4-3 lifetime against the Czech. “One of the great champions of the game, a very good friend of mine. I have a lot of respect for her and admire her for what she has achieved – a lot of people would be jealous of her career.”
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 14, 2022
Sakkari needed just 65 minutes to power past an out of form Kvitova on Monday. Four of the pair’s first six meetings had gone the distance but the 32-year-old Czech had very little to say about the sway of the contest on Stadium 2.
Sakkari won 24 of 25 first-serve points and saved both break points she faced in the opening set. The 26-year-old improved to 13-4 on the season and 5-3 lifetime at Indian Wells, reaching the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the first time since 2018.
“I think it was just a very good day of mine, and maybe not such a good day for her but I’m sure she will bounce back soon,” she said.
Sakkari will face Australia’s Daria Saville next. The Aussie qualifier topped the No.20 seed Elise Merteins, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
The world No.6 says that rankings goals are not on her mind as she approaches the business end of the tournament. What matters to Sakkari? Staying present and playing her game, day in and day out.
“Last year was my breakthrough year,” Sakkari said. “I made it to the top-10, made history for Greece, which is something that made me proud. I’m just trying to play my game every day, I know it sounds cliché, but that’s the way it is.”
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 15, 2022
Two-Time Champion Azarenka Dismissed by Rybakina
Hard-serving Elena Rybakina powered past Victoria Azarenka on a hot afternoon in Stadium 1, 6-3, 6-4. In a classical matchup of a world-class serve and a top-of-the-charts return, it was the booming offerings of Rybakina that held sway. The world No.20 fired five aces, won 28 of 32 first-serve points and saved the only break point she faced to win her first career meeting with the two-time Slam champion.
“I was focusing a lot of on my serve, of course,” Rybakina told the crowd after her win. “I serve big and it’s my weapon and today it worked out really well for me. She’s a great champion and I was just happy to play against her today.”
17th-seeded Rybakina moves on to face 31st-seeded Viktorija Golubic in the round of 16. The Swiss edged Italy’s Jasmine Paolini 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(4) to reach the round of 16 for the first time at Indian Wells.
No.4 Seed Kontaveit Edged by Vondrousova
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit become the second top-5 player to be bounced from the women’s singles draw on a balmy Monday afternoon, as Marketa Vondrousova rallied from a set down to earn a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5).
Vondrousova kept Kontaveit off balance with her tricky game, and eventually took charge of the contest by racing out to a 6-2 lead in the third set tiebreak. Kontaviet saved three match points but couldn’t rally all the way back against the 30th-seeded Czech.
There were 31 break point opportunities and a total of 12 breaks of serve in the back-and-forth contest.
Kontaveit was only able to win 58.3 percent of her first-serve points against the left-hander, well below her season average of 68.3 percent.