Indian Wells: Aryna Sabalenka knocked out by Emma Navarro

World number two Aryna Sabalenka fell to a surprise defeat by Emma Navarro in the fourth round of Indian Wells. Belarusian Sabalenka, who successfully defended her Australian Open title in January, lost 6-3 3-6 6-2 to the 23rd seed.

Navarro was cheered on by the California crowd as she reached her first WTA 1000 quarter-final. Fellow American and third seed Coco Gauff claimed a 6-0 6-2 win over Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

Playing on her 20th birthday, 2023 US Open champion Gauff wrapped up the first set in 25 minutes. Mertens finally got on the board with a break and held serve to level the second set at 2-2, but Gauff regained control and won four games in a row to reach the last eight for a second straight year.

“I feel really good. That’s my best match of the tournament so far and I’m obviously happy to get the win on my birthday,” Gauff told Sky Sports.

Gauff and Navarro are bidding to become the first American women to win at Indian Wells since Serena Williams in 2001.

Gauff will play China’s Yuan Yue, who beat Russian 11th seed Daria Kasatkina 4-6 6-4 6-3, in the semi-finals. Navarro faces Greek ninth seed Maria Sakkari, a 6-2 3-6 6-3 winner over France’s Diane Parry.

Claiming the first break of the match in the eighth game, Navarro saved a break point before serving out the opening set, but Sabalenka fought back to win the second. After exchanging breaks early in the decider, Navarro struck again for a 3-1 lead as Sabalenka’s serve faltered and, after saving the first match point, the two-time major winner missed the second to hand Navarro the biggest win of her career.

The victory continues a strong season for the 22-year-old, who claimed her first WTA Tour title in January at the Hobart International.

“I’m feeling really good. It’s never easy coming out and playing an opponent like that – so experienced and just so talented,” Navarro said.

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

Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev claimed a 6-4 6-4 victory over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov to reach the men’s quarter-finals. Medvedev will face Danish seventh seed Holger Rune, who saved a match point on his way to a 2-6 7-6 6-3 win over American 12th seed Taylor Fritz.

Indian Wells is the only one of the six hard-court ATP Masters 1,000 tournament that Medvedev has not won. Norway’s ninth seed Casper Ruud overcame Frenchman Gael Monfils 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to reach the last eight.

Ruud will face American Tommy Paul, a 6-4 6-3 winner over Italy’s Luca Nardi, who knocked out world number one Novak Djokovic in the previous round.

Source: BBC


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