Sunday, March 15, 2023 - Celebrating Heroes as seen during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Katelyn Mulcahy/BNP Paribas Open)
Indian Wells quarterfinal action kicks off on Wednesday in the California desert as the bottom half competes for coveted semifinal spots at the BNP Paribas Open. Scroll down to keep tabs on all of the quarterfinal action taking place inside Stadium 1…
Make it four consecutive three-set triumphs for 2022 runner-up Maria Sakkari at this year’s BNP Paribas Open. The Greek, who called Wednesday’s 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 triumph over 15th-seeded Petra Kvitova one of the best comebacks of her career, is finding ways to win despite not playing her best tennis.
Sakkari was down by a set and a break before she dug in to flip the script on the two-time Wimbledon champion.
“Not only was I down a set and a break, but she made me play like an amateur in the first set,” said Sakkari. “She was playing so good. I had to try and focus on different things, I had to try and look at the other side of the net to see what I could do to put her in uncomfortable positions and I think it worked. I just tried to play physical – all I can say is I need a pedicure because my feet are bleeding so badly.”
Sakkari sets a clash with No.2-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in Friday’s semifinals at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Sabalenka owns the 4-3 lifetime edge but Sakkari has taken the pair’s last two meetings.
The Greek knows that she’ll be facing a dangerous version of the 24-year-old, who is 16-1 on the season and just over a month removed from winning her first major title at the 2023 Australian Open.
“I think she’s a different player than when I played her the last time,” Sakkari said. “She just won a Grand Slam, she’s so confident. I watched a little bit of her match today and she was hitting so big. It’s going to be tough, another big hitter, like today… all I can do is try to find solutions, I haven’t played my best tennis yet but I’m in the semifinals without playing good tennis. All I can say is my mentality is very good and I’m here to stay until the end.”
Starting the year with a major breakthrough at the Australian Open, Aryna Sabalenka has not dropped the beat since. The No. 2 seed laid down another slick groove on Wednesday against No. 6-seeded Coco Gauff, reeling off the final seven games of the match to score a decisive 6-4, 6-0 victory over the 19-year-old sensation.
Gauff held the 3-1 edge over Sabalenka in the pair’s head-to-head, but form followed function in this matchup as Sabalenka and her newfound serving prowess allowed Gauff only nine return points and zero break points.
— wta (@WTA) March 15, 2023
Sabalenka, meanwhile, won 50 percent of her return points (27/54) and 50 percent of her break points (4/8) to waltz into her first BNP Paribas Open semifinal.
The World No. 2, who improved to 16-1, hopes to kick around the grounds at the BNP Paribas Open until Sunday. To do that she’ll have to defeat either Maria Sakkari or Petra Kvitova in Friday’s semifinal action. Sakkari and Kvitova will kick off Wednesday’s night session on Stadium 1, at 6PM.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable,” 24-year-old Sabalenka told the crowd after the win “I don’t want to leave, I want to stay here as long as I can just to enjoy the atmosphere.”
Gauff pushed deeper than ever before at this year’s tournament, reaching past the second round for the first time in three career appearances, but she failed to win a set for the sixth consecutive outing against a Top 10 player.