Big names continued to tumble on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, with the departure of World No 3 Karolina Pliskova, defending champion Bianca Andreescu and 15h seed Coco Gauff all suffering early exits.
Holding my serve, I think it helped me get through the first set. The second set was a little bit tight. She started playing better. But I'm glad that I broke the last minute and was able to finish with my serve. With the fatigue, mentally and physically, at the end of the season, I'm trying to really play my best tennis. Ons Jabeur
Brazilian lucky loser Beatriz Haddad Maia pulled off the biggest upset of the WTA 1000 event in handing Pliskova, the top seed, a straight sets loss on the birthday of her country’s legendary Maria Esther Bueno, who would have been 82 on this day, 11 October.
Haddad Maia lost to Usue Maitane Arconada in the final round of qualifying, but the Brazilian got her second chance after the withdrawal of No 29 seed Nadia Podoroska, due to a thigh injury.
After inheriting Podoroska’s first-round bye and dispatching Mayar Sherif in the second round, Haddad Maia is into the round of 16 at a WTA 1000 event for the first time via her 2-hour 4-minute win over World No 3 Pliskova.
Playing in the blustery conditions on one of the outer courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Haddad Maia, ranked 115, proved the steadier of the two as she dealt out a 6-3 7-5 loss to Pliskova in the 3rd round, earning her the second Top 10 win of her career.
Pliskova, the season’s ace leader, struggled with her serve in the desert wind, dumping 2 double-faults from game point up to offer up an early break at 2-1 in the opening set.
At 3-2, Haddad Maia saved 4 break points to hold onto her serve, and eased to a set lead from there as the Czech top seed was undone by 7 double-faults in total in the opener.
The second featured 8 consecutive breaks of serve, culminating with Haddad Maia being broken while serving for the match at 5-3 but, at 6-5, the Brazilian fired a return winner to line up her 2nd match point, which she converted after Pliskova mishit a backhand off the top of her racket to send the ball skyward, ending the contest, which took over 2 hours to complete.
While Pliskova hammered down 5 aces, she also coughed up 12 double-faults, winning just 25 percent of her second deliveries, and had her serve broken 8 times.
Haddad Maia will try her luck again against another seed, No 18 Anett Kontaveit, after the Estonian took out Canadian defending champion Andreescu, the 16th seed, earlier in the day.
Kontaveit, who is on a hot run, continued her fine form by dominating Andreescu, 7-6(5) 6-3, stretching her winning streak now to 8 matches.
“It was extremely close throughout the match and I was just trying to stay tough,” Kontaveit said later. “I was ready for a tough match.
“She’s such a good player, such a great competitor, so I knew it wasn’t going to be over until it was really over.”
After falling an early break down in the opener, Kontaveit won 4 straight games to take the lead, but ultimately needed 5 set points to take a one-set lead.
Andreescu erased 3 set points on Kontaveit’s serve at 5-4 before breaking, and Kontaveit won 4 of the last 5 points of the tiebreak.
She also won 5 straight games from 3-1 down to seal the match in straight sets.
“I been feeling really well on the court,” the 25-year-old said. “I have a lot of confidence.
“I am happy and have been able to enjoy myself out there. That’s a big part of why I have been playing so well lately.”
Kontaveit, who already has 2 hard court titles to her credit this season, won the last 5 games of the match to see off the tournament’s 2019 champion, who also captured the US Open crown that same year.
In fact, this was the first loss for the Canadian at Indian Wells, who became the first wild-card to win the women’s title here.
“I didn’t play my best and I didn’t feel my best,” said Andreescu. “The conditions were tough with the wind.
“I don’t think she played her best tennis either, but she was the better player today.”
After beginning a new coaching collaboration with former ATP player Dmitry Tursunov in August, Kontaveit has now won 15 of her last 16 matches, capturing two titles over that span in Cleveland and Ostrava.
“I’ve really been enjoying being out here, really enjoying playing competitive matches and I’ve been having a lot of fun,” Kontaveit added. “I think that’s been the key, and of course, Dmitry has helped a lot, too.”
Meanwhile, Tunisa’s Ons Jabeur picked up her tour-leading 46th match-win of the year with a straight-set win over American Danielle Collins, 6-1 6-3.
The 12th seed mastered the extremely windy conditions, taking just an hour and 13 minutes to dispatch the American, converting 5 of her 12 break points to seal the win.
Jabeur was particularly successful returning World No 25’s second serve, winning 72 percent of points off those deliveries.
Collins fired 6 double-faults in the 10-minute opening game alone and Jabeur never looked back in the opener, taking it easily with a drop-shot winner on set point.
After falling behind an early 0-2 break in the second, Collins powered back on serve at 2-1, but after a more competitive stretch, Jabeur reclaimed her break with outstanding groundstroke depth, edging ahead 5-3.
Serving for the match, the Tunisian had to fend off a break point, but held on for the win when Collins sent her return wide on the first match point.
“Holding my serve, I think it helped me get through the first set,” Jabeur said, in her post-match press conference. “The second set was a little bit tight.
“She started playing better. But I’m glad that I broke the last minute and was able to finish with my serve.
“With the fatigue, mentally and physically, at the end of the season, I’m trying to really play my best tennis.
“I never played this long. It’s a new experience for me. But I’m happy that it’s motivation for end of the year.
“I’m not very far. I honestly want to win as much as I can to qualify [for the WTA Finals].”
Jabeur will now face one of the tournament’s surprise packages in the round of 16 in Russian lucky loser Anna Kalinskaya, ranked 151, who outlasted Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, 1-6 6-1 6-3.
After losing 6 straight games in the opening set, Kalinskaya put in a near-perfect performance against Golubic’s serve, breaking the Swiss 7 times in her 8 service games.
Elsewhere, No 3 seed, Barbora Krejcikova, has been flying under the radar into the round of 16, adding a convincing 6-2 6-3 win over America’s Amanda Anisimova to her tally, although she was pushed to 3 sets in the previous round by Zarina Dyas from Kazakstan.
The Czech will take on No 21 seed Paula Badosa from Spain, who advanced with a 6-2 6-2 win over Coco Gauff in the challenging conditions.
Badosa was dominant in the wind against the 15th-seeded American teenager, saving the only break point she faced all night to go unbroken against the 17-year-old.
The match opened with 4 holds of serve until the Spaniard finally punched through for the first of her 4 breaks of serve in the match, breaking Gauff at love to lead 3-2.
Badosa broke again for a 5-2 lead before rain forced a stoppage in play, but the lengthy delay did nothing to stop the 23-year-old, who coolly closed out the opening set after 27 minutes of play.
“I know she’s an amazing player,” Badosa said. “She’s going to be even better.
“But I played her doubles, so more or less I know what I could find today.
“I know she has an amazing serve. I knew I had to be pretty solid on mine as well. An amazing backhand. She’s very athletic as well. So I was expecting a tough match.”
Gauff struggled to find her rhythm, misfiring on 28 unforced errors compared to Badosa’s 7, while the Spaniard made 71% of her first serves and lost just 9 points on her delivery all night.
“I know the conditions today were tough,” Badosa added. “Sometimes when you don’t feel you have good feelings from the beginning, sometimes it’s tough.
“I think that’s what happened to her. I played quite well. I stayed very focused and solid, and I think that was the key of the match.”
Elsewhere, Angelique Kerber, the 10th seed from Germany, got past Daria Kasatkina, seeded 20, in their 4th career 3-setter, 6-2 1-6 6-4, to reach the 4th round for the 6th time.
Two one-sided sets gave way to a tense decider before the outcome was decided after an hour 47 minutes.
They traded breaks twice across the first 4 games, before Kerber earned the decisive break at 3-3, but she needed 5 break points after leading 0-40 to do it, serving out victory from 15-40 down.
“It’s always tough to play against Daria,” Kerber said afterwards. “We’ve played so many matches in the past… and today was a bit of a rollercoaster match for me.
“I played very well in the first set and she played well in the second, so I was just trying to stay mentally strong and to play point by point.
“At the end it was just one or two points that decided the match, and I’m happy to be through. I’m feeling good… I’m just trying to get through as far as I can, playing good tennis again.”
Kerber will next face Ajla Tomljanovic from Australia, who defeated No 26 seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia, 6-4 6-3.
“It doesn’t matter against who I’m playing,” the German added. “It’s more about how I feel, that I’m ready for every point, that I play my game like in the last few months and few weeks, so this is more my goal.”
Tomljanovic, a Wimbledon quarter-finalist this year and the World No 47, took 96-minute to get past 2021 Roland Garros semi-finalist Zidansek and reach the round of 16 in the desert for the first time.
The Aussie fell behind 0-4 from the get-go but then 9 games in a row to take a commanding 6-4, 3-0 lead before Zidansek eased back to 3-3 in the second set.
It was a short-lived revival as Tomljanovic swept home from there, improving to 5-2 against the Slovenian.