BNP Paribas Open
BNP Paribas Open Logo
ATP Tour
WTA Tennis
Match Recap
Women's Round Of 16: Emma Navarro Knocks Out Sabalenka, Coco Snags Birthday Win
3 Min Read · March 13, 2024

The way Emma Navarro has soared in the tennis world in the last year, nothing now comes as a surprise.

From being ranked No. 149 at the start of 2023, Navarro entered the BNP Paribas Open at a career high No. 23. She added a few more strings to her bow with a stunning 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over two-time Grand Slam winner Aryna Sabalenka on Wednesday.


Navarro’s win has her into a WTA 1000 quarterfinal for the first time and marks the biggest ranking win of her career against the World No. 2. She now also leads the WTA Tour in wins this year, moving ahead of the sizable duo of Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina.

“Feeling really good,” said Navarro, who was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. “It’s never easy coming out and playing an opponent like that, so experienced and so talented.

She made it really tough for me today but I was able to play some good tennis in the big moments.”  

And yes, her 92-year-old grandma was watching again on TV. Navarro gave a shout out to her gran after a late night win over Elina Svitolina in the third round on Monday.

Emma Navarro recorded the biggest win of her career Wednesday, defeating No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Navarro’s match against Rybakina last month in Doha might have been handy preparation for her Stadium 1 tussle with the hard-hitting Sabalenka. Sabalenka and Rybakina — last year’s finalists in Tennis Paradise — are towering power players.

But Navarro’s backhand punch, stellar movement and often penetrating forehand got the better of Sabalenka in front of a home crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 

“Her potential is really great,” said Sabalenka. “I think she's already in the top. Yeah, I think she have this potential to be in the Top 10.”

The 22-year-old had to hang on in her service games in the first set. In all five of them, she either trailed or was taken to deuce.

Navarro broke for 5-3, then saved a break point in the next game. Sabalenka, though, doesn’t mind a comeback. She saved four match points in her opener against Peyton Stearns.

But Navarro was not to be denied like her fellow NCAA Champion Stearns was. Despite dropping the second set, Navarro grabbed the early advantage in the third, was pegged back, broke again, and won one of the points of the tournament at 4-2. Both players chased drop shots, retrieved balls on the baseline and covered virtually all parts of the court. A Sabalenka backhand wide ended the point.

Navarro, who doesn’t often show emotion, let out a small smile.

“I love to scramble, I love to get scrappy, as my coach says,” said Navarro. “It’s one of the things that I love the most about the game. Just kind of that cat-and-mouse aspect of sort of playing.”

A bigger smile, though not much bigger, came after Sabalenka’s backhand sailed long on a second match point.

Coco Wins On 20th Birthday 

Coco Gauff celebrated her 20th birthday on Wednesday with an emphatic win over an opponent who has troubled her in the past. 

Gauff followed Navarro on Stadium 1 and joined her fellow American in the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Belgium’s Elise Mertens. When it ended, Gauff made a ‘2’ and ‘0’ with her hands, with mom Candi dancing in her daughter’s player box.

Gauff also beat Mertens last year at the US Open on the way to landing a maiden Grand Slam title, but that one was much closer. There was no sweating this one for Gauff at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, who put in her best performance of the tournament so far to reach a second straight quarterfinal in the desert.

More news