Azarenka edges Kvitova at Indian Wells, Fernandez tallies another comeback thriller

Within the newest chapter of a rivalry that dates again 13 years, Victoria Azarenka bought the higher of Petra Kvitova on Sunday night time on the BNP Paribas Open in a decent 7-5, 6-4 victory to succeed in the fourth spherical.

The 2 main champions traded breaks thrice within the opening set, and Azarenka received the final three video games to take it — saving three break factors to stave off a first-set tiebreak. The second set proved a lot the identical. Kvitova received 4 straight video games from 3-1 all the way down to take the lead earlier than Azarenka once more one a trio of video games to seal victory.

In 1 hour and 49 minutes, there was little to separate the 2 gamers within the stat line. Azarenka hit 25 winners, and 9 aces, to 18 unforced errors, and went 6-for-11 on break factors.

Needing remedy on her proper thigh within the match, Kvitova struck 29 winners to 26 unforced, however went solely 4-for-12 on break factors in her final match of the season.

“It was actually exhausting 12 months,” Kvitova mentioned. “Since COVID began, it is fairly exhausting I feel for everyone. My physique is simply probably not dealing with completely. That is why I am ending proper now, to take some further weeks to get better my physique, to heal all the things what’s there.

“General the season, properly, I undoubtedly had higher seasons than this one. I had a title, which is at all times the spotlight of the season. I performed some unbelievable matches, I’d say. I nonetheless have the hearth inside me, which is essential for me as properly, even on this age. I imply, with out the hearth I feel I could not play anymore, but it surely’s there in order that’s good.”

A rivalry renewed: Azarenka and Kvitova have been taking part in for the ninth time total, however simply the third time prior to now decade. Azarenka secured her fourth win of their head-to-head matchups, her second on arduous courts and first since Toronto in 2015. 

“I feel it was a great match,” Azarenka mentioned. “It was very shut, which I knew it was going to be, going to be type of arduous to catch rhythm. It was a number of firsts, whoever will get the chance to type of transfer the ball first, be aggressive. I wasn’t anticipating too many huge rallies. 

“I assumed it was good. I am proud of the way in which I closed out the each units. I feel these have been necessary moments. I took these alternatives into my very own arms.

“It was necessary to simply keep there, actually take my alternatives, to not let her. If she will get within the groove in couple factors, to not type of let her prolong that streak, if you wish to name it that.

Compatriot conflict up subsequent: The 2-time major-winner subsequent faces her fellow Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich for a spot within the final eight. Regardless of assembly Aryna Sabalenka 4 occasions prior to now two years, Azarenka and Sasnovich have by no means performed.

“I take into consideration 5 years in the past, I did not actually have that many gamers right here on tour from my nation,” Azarenka mentioned. “To see that growth of women and boys… it is actually wonderful to see how a lot tennis is creating from such a small nation with not that many sources. I am actually happy with that.”

Later, in her post-match press convention, the elder Belarusian expanded on her evaluation of her youthful compatriot, who’ll be bidding for a 3rd straight victory over a Grand Slam champion at this match after upsetting Emma Raducanu and Simona Halep.

“To begin with, I am very joyful that Sasha has progressed into the fourth spherical,” Azarenka mentioned. “She had a bit bit I feel much less good outcomes these days, so it is an superior achievement for her.

“It will be an attention-grabbing match. I feel she’s taking part in very freely, nothing to lose. There’s at all times a little bit of hazard in opponents like that. However I am actually trying ahead. I do know everyone say that they need to give attention to themselves, however I’m actually right here to give attention to how I can enhance my sport.

“I feel it takes typically actually time to grasp that perhaps there are some issues that must be modified. That is the place I’m. I need to see how I can implement these modifications and work ahead.”

Fernandez extends Prime 20 profitable streak with three-set comeback

US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez rallied from a set and a break all the way down to defeat No.9 seed and French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the spherical of 16 in her match debut. 

The win prolonged the Canadian’s profitable streak in opposition to Prime 20 opponents to 5, together with wins over Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka and now Pavlyuchenkova.

There may solely be one winner within the third-round match between two of 2021’s main finalists, and Fernandez got here from 7-5, 2-0 all the way down to e-book a gathering with American Shelby Rogers for a spot within the quarterfinals.

Ferocious Fernandez comeback upends Pavlyuchenkova in 3 units: Indian Wells Highlights

2021 Indian Wells

Artwork of the upset: Within the aftermath of 7-5, 2-0, Fernandez crucially saved all six break factors she confronted. The pair traded breaks twice on the finish of the primary set, with 5 of the final six video games from 3-3 going in opposition to serve.

Within the second set, the Canadian denied Pavlyuchenkova 4 alternatives to maneuver forward 3-2, and she or he additionally dug out of 15-40 within the eighth sport of the decider to maintain the lead. She had beforehand earned the deciding service break at 2-2. 

Stats of the match: Although each gamers tallied extra unforced errors than winners, it was the Canadian’s margin of 24 to 36 that edged the Russian’s 32 to 46. In all, the match noticed 9 breaks of serve between the 2, as they mixed to create 23 break factors. 

Up subsequent: An underdog in every of these 5 wins in opposition to Prime 20 foes, Fernandez takes an 0-1 head-to-head report to courtroom in opposition to Rogers up subsequent. The pair performed final 12 months in Lexington within the spherical of 16 in a match received by the American, 6-2, 7-5. 

Pegula secures one other Spherical of 16 berth at a WTA 1000 occasion

Authoring one other deep run in an enormous occasion, No.19 seed Jessica Pegula eased into the fourth spherical with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Italian fortunate loser Jasmine Paolini. On courtroom for lower than an hour, Pegula wrapped up the 58-minute victory by profitable 18 of the ultimate 19 factors.

Hitting 16 winners to 16 unforced errors, Pegula went an ideal 5-for-5 on break factors. The American boasted a commanding edge within the stat line as Paolini hit simply three winners to 23 unforced. 

Quick details: Pegula has reached the fourth spherical or higher at 5 WTA 1000 occasions this 12 months. This additionally marks her finest run in Indian Wells, too, after dropping within the first spherical in her 2012 debut and within the second spherical in 2019.

Phrases from the winner: Regardless of a distinction of practically 40 locations locations between Pegula and Paolini within the rankings, the American wasn’t trying previous the Italian who’d overwhelmed No. 14 seed Elise Mertens within the second spherical and received her first WTA singles title in Portoroz, Slovenia, two weeks in the past.

“I knew it was going to be difficult,” Pegula mentioned after the match. “I do know she was a fortunate loser, however she simply beat a very good seed, so I knew I could not let up. She’s actually feisty and has a great sport, so I simply tried to remain aggressive and actually centered every level and never get too annoyed, and I feel I did a very good job of that.

“I am unable to consider [this year is] already nearly ending. It is passed by actually quick, but it surely’s clearly the most effective 12 months I’ve had in my profession. I’ve simply tried to take pleasure in each match, nonetheless have enjoyable with it, and at all times continue to learn as a result of I feel going into subsequent 12 months too, that is what I will need to do, it doesn’t matter what. I feel so long as I am engaged on stuff each single day that it makes the method actually enjoyable and would not put an excessive amount of stress on me.”

Again to the start: For a spot within the quarterfinals, Pegula will face Elina Svitolina for the third time this 12 months. To start her breakthrough season, she defeated Svitolina within the fourth spherical of the Australian Open in February for her first Prime 10 victory. She has since scored 5 extra.

Learn extra: Sasnovich shocks Halep to increase Indian Wells upset run; Svitolina outlasts Cirstea

“It is an enormous alternative,” Pegula mentioned. “I clearly know it may be a troublesome match. I feel when you’re deeper within the match, each match will get tougher and tougher. I do know that I’ve overwhelmed her earlier than however now she’s watched me play all 12 months, and I am certain she has a unique sport plan or she’s going to do one thing totally different.

“I truly actually admire how she competes. I feel she’s most likely among the finest opponents, if not the most effective, on the market, so it doesn’t matter what, I will need to go on the market and compete arduous, and hopefully, it’s going to be a great match.”

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