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Women's Round of 16: Caroline Wozniacki Keeps Her Comeback Train Rolling
3 Min Read · March 12, 2024

Rivalry Revived, Wozniacki Evens The Score With Kerber 

As the blanket-clad faithful settled into their seats on a breezy Tuesday evening in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, there was a palpable energy inside Stadium 2.


Former No. 1s, Grand Slam champions and – at least on this evening – tennis fashion doppelgangers, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki were ready to commence their 16th career meeting with a spot in the last eight at the BNP Paribas Open on the line. 

A lot has happened since this legendary pair last met in 2018. Both have left the tour to have children (in Wozniacki’s case, two) and returned from maternity leave in their mid-thirties to a tour dominated by a Top 4 with an average age of 22.5. 

Though they appeared as mirror images, clad in Adidas kits that were matched to the visors, Wozniacki’s 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Kerber demonstrated that the 33-year-old Dane is a bit further ahead of the 36-year-old German in her comeback. 

“I don’t take anything for granted,” Wozniacki told the crowd after improving her lifetime ledger against Kerber to 8-8. “I took a long time off, more than three and a half years, for me to be back here on this court and playing against the best players in the world is a special feeling. 

“I’m just enjoying myself and I’m just thrilled that I get another match in front of all of you guys.” 

With her win Wozniacki becomes the seventh woman to reach the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals beyond the age of 33, and the last mom standing of the seven that started the main draw at Indian Wells. 

Wozniacki, sharper at the start, stormed out to a 5-1 double break lead in the opener, before a determined Kerber punched back, ratcheting up her aggression and taking the next three games to get back on serve. 

After a medical timeout for what appeared to be a foot or ankle injury, Wozniacki broke to claim the set, 6-4. 

Though both players required medical timeouts in the 90-minute contest, it was Kerber who ran out of gas first, as a lower back issue threw her game out of whack at the start of the second set. 

Still, fans were rewarded for braving the chill, as both players shared spirited rallies, and landed colossal winners at times. In the end the court became tilted in Wozniack’s favor, as the 2011 champion pulled away from an ailing Kerber. 

“Things were going a bit my way,” Wozniacki said. “I could see that she was struggling a little bit with her back. I just tried to stay focused out there – I’m just happy I won.” 

Wozniacki has reached her first quarterfinal since before her comeback began, over four years ago at Auckland, in January of 2020. She will face either top-seeded Iga Swiatek or Yulia Putintseva next.

Marta Kostyuk Breaks Through For First BNP Paribas Open Quarterfinal

A sparkling season for 21-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk just keeps getting better. 

The World No. 32, who reached her first major quarterfinal at the Australian Open in January, defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1 on a sunny afternoon in Stadium 2 to reach her first BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal – and first at the 1000 level. 

Kostyuk was dialed in from start to finish as she notched her third consecutive Top 25 win, and second in three weeks against Pavlyuchenkova, whom she defeated in the San Diego quarterfinals, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The No. 31 seed broke open a close match and stormed to the finish line, winning nine of the final ten games from 4-3 down in the opening set. 

“In the first set I felt like a lot of things were not working,” Kostyuk told the crowd. “But that’s a tennis player’s mentality – everything has to be perfect.” 

In essence, it was a tale of two matches. In the first set Pavlyuchenkova and Kostyuk battled for supremacy, trading breaks in the opening two games and holding serve for the next six to get to four-all. Kostyuk converted her third break point to take a 5-4 lead, and saved a break point in the next game to lock down the seesaw opening set. 

The second set was one way traffic as Kostyuk reeled off the final six games to improve to 14-5 on the season. What’s been the secret to success in this season of successive breakthroughs for Kostyuk? 

“I definitely get a lot of support from my team and my family, and that helps a lot,” she said, adding: “I just try to be more convincing with my game, I try to stick to things and not back off when something goes wrong.” 

Kostyuk is the first player from Ukraine to reach the quarterfinals at Indian Wells since Elina Svitolina in 2021. No Ukrainian has ever reached a BNP Paribas Open final.

Kostyuk will face No.28-seeded Anastasia Potapova next. The former junior No.1 defeated Jasmine Paolini 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 earlier in the first match on Stadium 1, to reach the last eight at Indian Wells for the first time. 

Two women’s singles quarterfinals are still to come on Tuesday in Tennis Paradise: Angelique Kerber takes on Caroline Wozniacki at 6 PM on Stadium 2, while top-seeded Iga Swiatek faces Yulia Putintseva in the second match of the Stadium 1 night session. 

Swiatek Sails Into Quarterfinals 

World No.1 Iga Swiatek continues to beef up her Indian Wells resume in impressive fashion. The 22-year-old four-time Grand Slam champion moved past Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-2 on Tuesday night, improving to 15-2 lifetime at the BNP Paribas Open and setting a quarterfinal clash with former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki. 

Swiatek never trailed in the 71-minute contest, as she won nine of the first ten games and rebounded from a brief second-set letdown before cruising to her third win in three meetings with No. 79-ranked Putintseva. 

“Honestly I just knew I had to keep my focus, because she was trying some different stuff out there – I really wanted to just play my game and focus on what I wanted to do, and I’m glad that I did that,” Swiatek said. 

The 2022 BNP Paribas Open champion Swiatek improves to 17-2 for the 2024 season – she has dropped just ten games through three rounds in the California desert. 

Wozniacki and Swiatek have met just once, with the Pole winning in three sets over the Dane at Toronto in 2019. 

“I really respect her,” Swiatek said. “I think she’s playing great, even after maternity break, I have huge respect – off the court she’s a great person.”

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