Indian Wells | Mums Wozniacki and Kerber set up Last 16 meeting as Swiatek sweeps Noskova aside

Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber celebrated Mother’s Day with wins at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Sunday, and will play each other next for a place in the quarter-finals, while World No 1 Iga Swiatek came from behind to avenge her Australian Open loss to Linda Noskova, delivering another bagel in the process.

I made some mistakes at the beginning. I tried to, maybe, play to finish the rallies too early, but I knew that if I'm going to try to stay consistent, and make a little bit less mistakes, my chances may come. I had to, kind of, change some negative thoughts that I had, into just thinking that I wasn't thinking about, just waiting for my chances. Iga Swiatek

Former World No 1 Wozniacki won an all-wild card tussle in the night session, outlasting American Katie Volynets, 6-2 4-6 6-0, after 2 hours and 10 minutes to make it into the 4th round.

“Any time I hit it short, [Volynets] would go in and really cut off the angles and go in a different direction,” the Dane said after her win. “It was a difficult match. We had a lot of long rallies, but happy to be through.”

Wozniacki, the 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion, is playing at Indian Wells for the first time since 2019, and is set for steep rise in her ranking next week, after impressive wins at this week’s WTA 1000 event at Indian Wells.

A mother of two, Wozniacki received a wild-card to play in the tournament as her current ranking is down at No 204 after she came out of retirement last year.

The 2018 Australian Open champion has shown flashes of brilliance since making her come-back, with her run to the 4th round of last year’s US Open suggesting she could still be a threat at the top of the game at the age of 33.

Looking supremely fit and striking the ball with aggressive intensity, Wozniacki has moved into the Last 16 after impressive wins against China’s Lin Zhu and Croatia’s Donna Vekic, with those results have already propelled the Dane up to No 149 in the live rankings.

On Sunday, Wozniacki had to stare down a challenge from Volynets, who knocked out No 6 seed Ons Jabeur in the previous round, but she cruised through the opening frame, before the American upped her winner count from 4 in the first set to 12 in the second as she levelled the match.

In the decider, Wozniacki gritted out rallies to earn an early break at 2-0, and she continued to outmanoeuvre and outrun Volynets as the set moved on, sweeping ahead with ease, and finishing the match having converted half of her 14 break points.

Wozniacki is into the Round of 16 at Indian Wells for the 10th time in her career, and first since 2018, the only woman to reach the BNP Paribas Open Round of 16 ten times between 2001 and present.

A meeting with Germany’s Angelique Kerber, another former World No 1 and 3-time Grand Slam champion, beckons, with a potential meeting with Swiatek in the Last 16 an ultimate test looming for either of them.

“I’m just happy to be out there competing, and playing and playing in front of a nice crowd, and on big courts,” said Wozniacki. “That’s, kind of, where my mindset is. Doesn’t matter to me who is on the other side. I’m going to try my best and try and perform at the highest level that I possibly can.”

3-times Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber upset Veronika Kudermetova, the 17th seed, to set up a Last 16 with Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA 1000 tournament at Indian Wells

© Michael Owens/Getty Images

Kerber, meanwhile, reached the 4th-round by upsetting Veronika Kudermetova, the No 17 seed from Russia, 6-4 7-5, in an hour and 47 minutes.

“It was a really intense match — almost two hours for two sets,” said the German. “It’s another important win for me, and gives me confidence for the next rounds.”

The 36-year-old, who gave birth to daughter Liana just over a year ago, kicked off her own come-back at the very beginning of this season, following a year-and-a-half off the WTA Tour, and lost 6 of her first 7 matches, although half of those defeats were to Top 20 players at the mixed-team United Cup.

Like Wozniacki, Kerber’s game has clicked into place this week, the German having toppled Jelena Ostapenko, the World No 10 from Latvia, on Friday to notch her first Top 10 win since 2021, and then backing it up by beating Kudermetova.

The match unfolded on Stadium 2, a spacious venue that was only partially filled as the players walked onto the court under a slightly overcast sky, and Kerber promptly dropped serve.

Kudermetova was error-prone, allowing Kerber to break back and levelling the score at 2-2, before Kerber’s strategic use of high and flat balls helped her secure a 4-3 lead, and, at 4-5, the Russian served to stay in the set, but the German conjured up a set point and converted when the 17th seed struck long.

Breaking early in the second to go 2-1 up, Kudermetova was pegged back again for 2-2, and Kerber managed to hold the next lengthy game to move ahead, 3-2.

Her 4th ace of the match saved Kudermetova from losing her serve, but Kerber was able to secure the break at 40-30 to lead 4-2 in the second set and seemed sailing, but her opponent broke back and reduced the deficit to 4-3.

The longer the match went on, the better and longer the rallies became, and, after 4-all, the German was able to win a tight service game with an overhead smash and fired her first ace of the match to win the game for 5-4.

Kudermetova held to level again, but Kerber had an easy service game to go ahead, and held 3 match points and broke to love to move into the Last 16.

“I was feeling good,” Kerber added. “Hitting the balls good, moving good. I’m on the way to playing again good tennis against the best players.

“I’ve practised now for months — I’m done with practice. I’m happy to be having matches now. If you go out on the practice court every single day, and do the same things, it’s nice to be now in the tournament.

“We had three, four months of practice, preparation. It was a long time, so that’s why I’m happy having tournaments now.”

Kerber converted half of her 12 break points on Sunday, while saving 7 of the 11 break points she faced.

Currently ranked 607, Kerber entered this week on a protected ranking of 31, and is the first player ranked outside the Top 600 to go this deep at Indian Wells.

She is now rising impressively in the live rankings, and Kerber can expect to land at least at No 342 in the new listings after this WTA 1000 event.

On the prospect of playing Wozniacki. Kerber added: “We are friends now, and we will be still friends after a match. We will try, of course, to win, but, at the end, I think there are more important things than a tennis match. For the crowd it will be an interesting match.”

The pair of former No 1 players last met in 2019.

Top-seeded Iga Swiatek trailed Linda Noskova before delivering the 71st bagel set of her career to advance to the Last 16 on Sunday

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

First on court was Swiatek, the top seed, who avenged her early Australian Open loss at the hands of Linda Noskova, defeating the Czech teenager, 6-4 6-0, in 73 minutes.

Sunday’s encounter was not as straightforward as the score might suggest, as, for the first half of the opening set, the Czech looked to be heading for another upset surprise.

Noskova had upset Swiatek in 3 sets in Australia, becoming the first teenager to beat a No 1-ranked woman in Melbourne for 25 years.

Now, the 19-year old was hitting big from the back of the court, and pushing Swiatek off the baseline, with her delicate drop-shots keeping the 22-year old Pole guessing.

Noskova, one of two teenagers in the field in Tennis Paradise, built herself a tidy 4-2 first-set lead, and she held 3 more break points in the 7th game that would have given her the chance to serve for the set, but from that point on, the tables were turned.

After winning 9 straight games in her 2nd-round win against American Danielle Collins, who also gave Swiatek all she could handle in Melbourne before the Pole escaped, the top seed won 10 in a row to surge past Noskova, and booked her spot in the 4th round at Indian Wells for the 4th time.

“I made some mistakes at the beginning,” Swiatek said. “I tried to, maybe, play to finish the rallies too early, but I knew that if I’m going to try to stay consistent, and make a little bit less mistakes, my chances may come.

“I had to, kind of, change some negative thoughts that I had, into just thinking that I wasn’t thinking about, just waiting for my chances. I knew that I’m experienced enough to just, you know, hold it together and not really let myself let these negative thoughts win. So I just did that.

“I think my game clicked a little bit more. I tried not to make these mistakes from faster rallies that we had, but, actually, we had a little bit less rallies, longer rallies later. So I just wanted to be consistent and use my advantages in the way this court works with my game.”

Having delivered her 71st career bagel, Swiatek advances to the Last 16, where she will face Yulia Putintseva, after the Kazakh toppled the No 18 seed, Madison Keys from America, who was making her season debut in Indian Wells after a shoulder injury forced her out of the Australian swing.

Dubai champion Jasmine Paolini defeated Anna Kalinskaya for the second time in a week at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday

© Michael Owens/Getty Images

Jasmine Paolini, the Dubai champion who is seeded 13 here, won another tight match against Anna Kalinskaya, 6-3 3-6 6-4, the Italian rallying past the Russian in 2 hours and 1 minute.

It was a repeat of the Dubai Open final just a week ago, and Paolini maintained her composure during the challenging moments, securing the win and reaching the 4th round at Tennis Paradise for the first time.

Paolini will face Anastasia Potapova, the No 26 seed from Russia, next, who easily dispatched lucky loser Nadia Podoroska from Argentina, 6-1 6-1, in just 61 minutes.

Another Russian, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 22nd seed, battled past Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-3 3-6 6-4, needing 2 hours and 38 minutes to upset the Brazilian World No 13.

Pavlyuchenkova, who returns to the Round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2017, had to come from a set down to take out the 12th seed, and will meet Marta Kostyuk, the No 31 seed, after the Ukrainian advanced by virtue of a walkover when Marketa Vondrousova, the Czech 7th seed, withdrew from the tournament due to personal reasons.



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