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Muguruza and Sakkari ousted at Indian Wells

Garbiñe Muguruza met her match at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Saturday when the No 5 seed from Spain was toppled by Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic, while top seeds Karolina Pliskova, Barbora Krejcikova, and Angelique Kerber rolled into the 3rd round alongside defending champion Bianca Andreescu.

I felt like I could have raised my level a little bit more throughout the match because that's what she did, that's how she came back in those important moments. But I think the key for me today was to keep my composure as much as I can, and not to feel the pressure of the crowd, or being defending champion. I think I dealt with that better in the third set. Bianca Andreescu

Also out of contention is Maria Sakkari, the 6th seed from Greece, who was upset by Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, 5-7 6-3 6-2.

28-year-old Tomljanovic, who is currently ranked 47 in the world, pulled off the biggest upset of the WTA 1000 event in the California desert so far, shocking Muguruza, 6-3 1-6 6-3.

The former World No 1 came into the event having just won her 9th career singles title in Chicago last week, but Tomljanovic was unfazed as she collected the win after an hour 52 minutes.

“I was really looking forward to playing Garbiñe, because I did lose [to her] the last couple of times,” Tomljanovic said on court. “I did try to focus on that one time I beat her, and tried to channel that energy, so I was really happy that I got through today.”

Muguruza had won 3 of their 4 previous meetings, including a 59-minute dismantling in their most recent encounter at Doha last season, but Tomljanovic was able to squeak out the win despite a second-set lapse, winning nearly 60 percent of points returning the Spaniard’s first serve.

The first set went Tomljanovic’s way after 3 consecutive breaks gave her a 3-2 advantage, which she held to 5-3 when Muguruza let 40-0 slip away and lost the set on a double-fault.

The Spaniard appeared to get matters under control in the second when she cleaned up her play, striking 10 winners to just 6 unforced errors as double-faults crept into the Tomljanovic service games.

Muguruza opened up a 4-0 lead and, at 5-1, fired a deft lob to reach set point and levelled the match when Tomljanovic sent a forehand long.

The Aussie, however, regrouped in the decider, romping to a quick break in the first game and although Muguruza levelled at 3-3, outstanding defence by Tomljanovic forced an error from the Spaniard on break point in the next game, and she reclaimed her break.

Tomljanovic’s rally tolerance proved stronger down the stretch, and she closed out the match with another break, setting up a meeting with No 26 seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia in the 3rd round, who defeated Ana Konjuh of Croatia, 6-4 5-7 6-3.


Ajla Tomljanovic pulled off the biggest upset of Indian Wells so far with a 3-set win over Garbiñe Muguruza

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Top seed Pliskova, ranked 3rd in the world, needed 80 minutes to get past 23-year-old Polish qualifier Magdalena Frech, 7-5 6-2, firing 6 aces to take her WTA-leading tally to 387 for the season, and converting 5 of 6 her break chances.

“Credit to her, of course,” Pliskova said on court after her win. “She won a couple matches, she was playing well, not really giving me any free points, which was difficult.

“But I think my game can be really working here pretty well. I’ve already been here for a week practicing, so hopefully I can win a couple more matches here.”

It was the 106th-ranked Frech who grabbed the first break of the match, taking a 4-3 lead in the opening set, but Pliskova promptly broke back and, leading 6-5, the Czech gave herself a set point with a backhand winner before the Pole fired into the net.

Pliskova powered to a 5-1 lead in the second and, after dropping her serve while serving for the match, broke Frech for the 5th time in the match to claim the win.

2019 Champion Andreescu made a winning return to Indian Wells, holding off a strong comeback effort from American Alison Riske to advance to the third round, 7-6(2) 5-7 6-2.

In their first career meeting, Andreescu and Riske battled through a tough opening set, in which each broke just once.

The Canadian’s consistent return, however, kept the former World No 4 on the front foot, and she raced away with the opening tiebreak, 7-2.

She looked in full control to finish the match in straight sets as she built a 4-1 lead in the second, but serving at 4-2, Andreescu produced a rash of unforced errors to allow Riske to break to 15 and get the set back on track.

Having regained a foothold in the set, Riske levelled at 4-4 after a lengthy service game, saving 2 break points along the way and then withstood the pressure of staving off 2 match points at 15-40 on her own serve before taking control of the next 2 games to square proceedings.

Andreescu settled herself during the set-break and raced to a 3-0 lead in the decider, riding out the match after 2 hours 48 minutes to take her career record at Indian Wells to 8-0.

“I felt like I could have raised my level a little bit more throughout the match because that’s what she did, that’s how she came back in those important moments,” Andreescu said. “But I think the key for me today was to keep my composure as much as I can, and not to feel the pressure of the crowd, or being defending champion.

“I think I dealt with that better in the third set.”

Andreescu generated 17 break points over the course of the match, compared to Riske’s 5, but the American proved efficient on her chances, converting 4 of 5 break points, while the Canadian converted 5 of her 17 chances.

The No 16 seed will face 18th-seeded Anett Kontaveit for a spot in the Round of 16 after the Estonian advanced with a 6-3, 5-2 win by retirement over Italy’s Martina Trevisan.


Angelique Kerber got past Katerina Siniakova in a gripping 3-setter

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Kerber, the No 10 seed, had to battle to the bitter end before edging Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, 6-1 6-7(4) 7-5, and advancing into the 3rd round after two-and-a-half hours of gripping play.

The German former World No 1 squeaked past 52nd-ranked Siniakova in a match that featured 15 breaks of service combined.

She charged through the first set, dictating with her forehand while being assisted by 8 Siniakova double-faults.

The German then led by a break 3 separate times in the early stages of the second, but the Czech cranked up the power and precision of her shots, pulling back on serve each time.

In fact, Siniakova got to triple set point at 5-4, before Kerber pulled herself out of danger in that game, but the Czech still powered herself into a tiebreak, where she jumped ahead 6-2 and held on from there to level the match.

The pair exchanged breaks twice early in the final set, and rallies and games were pushed to their limits as they moved to 5-5.

Kerber held serve in another protracted game to lead 6-5, and the German finally reached triple match point in the next game with a forehand passing winner down the line, and although Siniakova saved one, she could not handle the second, and the German emerged with a gutsy win.

She will next face No 20 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia next, who advanced past qualifier Astra Sharma, after the Australian retired due to injury while leading 4-3.


Ons Jabeur also needed 3 sets to take out Anastasija Sevastova at Indian Wells

© Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the woman who Muguruza beat in last week’s Chicago final, Ons Jabeur, also needed 3 sets to make it into round 3.

The 12th seed from Tunisia moved past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3, in just under 2 hours of play, for her tour-leading 45th match-win of the year.

After splitting the first 2 sets, Jabeur survived a 5-deuce game to hold on for a 4-3 lead in the decider.

Like Muguruza, Jabeur is aiming for one of the 8 spots at the Akron WTA Finals in Guadalajara and lies 9th in the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals, while the Spaniard is at No 6, and both need some solid results over the coming weeks to qualify.

Elsewhere, Golubic, ranked 46, posted an all-court clinic to upset Sakkari, the World No 9, in 3 sets to advance to the 3rd round.

“I always loved to really play the game, to have so many options,” the 28-year old told WTA Insider after the match. “This is something I always enjoyed.

“But I think at this level you have to be physically very, very strong and also you have to have power.

“It’s not enough to just mix up the game. I think this is something that as a junior I didn’t have yet. I had a good game, I had a good eye for the court and for the game but there were people overpowering me, so power wins.

“In the last years, I could develop more power, more strength, being faster as well.

“This is something you need to compete and this is where the variation comes in. But if you don’t have that part, it’s not enough.”

Golubic showed off both her variety, uncanny court sense, and power against Sakkari, effectively unravelling the Greek with physical defence and intelligent offence, and firing 25 winners while extracting 46 unforced errors the 6th seed over the course of the match.

After being broken 3 times in the opening set, Golubic won all but one of her service games for the rest of the match.

“I think with the conditions here, it’s pretty slow, so you can get easy points with the serve if you hit the spots, but I feel like it’s a little tougher,” Sakkari said. “So I think I made her play after her serves a lot, I had solid returns, but also in the rallies when she was attacking I made her play another shot and another shot.

“I think that maybe raised the pressure and made her miss some more shots.”

Having forced a decider, Golubic raced to a 4-0 lead and secured the win after 2 hours 33 minutes, finishing with 25 winners to 26 unforced errors, while Sakkari hit 39 winners to 46 unforced errors.

The win sets up a third-round meeting with Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya, who upset 28th seed Sara Sorribes Tormo from Spain earlier in the day, 6-3 4-6 6-2.

In other matches on Saturday, Czech Krejcikova, the 3rd seed, found her way past lucky loser Zarina Diyas from Kazakstan, 6-4 3-6 6-1, and will meet American Amanda Anisimova next, a 6-4 6-1 winner over Italy’s Camila Giorgi, the No 30 seed, 6-4 6-1.

Coco Gauff, the 15th seed, outlasted Caroline Garcia from France, 6-3 6-7(2) 6-1, to set up a 3rd round encounter with Paula Badosa, the No 21 seed from Spain, who took out Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine, 6-4 2-6 6-2.



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