Indian Wells: Navarro stuns Sabalenka, Gauff enters quarters

March 14, 2024
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American tennis sensation Emma Navarro defeated world number two Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 3-6 6-2 to secure her spot in ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Paribas Open for the first time in her career.

Indian Wells, March 14 (IANS) American tennis sensation Emma Navarro defeated world number two Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 3-6 6-2 to secure her spot in ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Paribas Open for the first time in her career.

Meanwhile, Coco Gauff celebrated her 20th birthday in style, dominating her opponent to advance with ease.

Navarro, known for her composed demeanor on the court, faced the formidable challenge of Sabalenka’s powerful serve. However, she remained unfazed, capitalizing on four of her five break-point opportunities to clinch victory in windy conditions. The opening six games of the match were tight with neither player getting a break point chance until Navarro made the breakthrough to go 5-3 up after a string of errors from Sabalenka.

Despite Sabalenka’s resurgence in the second set, Navarro maintained her composure, sealing the win with a crucial service hold and a fourth break point conversion on match point.

The victory is Navarro’s best by ranking and boosted into a fourth quarterfinal on the season and first of her career at the WTA 1000 level. As if those milestones weren’t enough to underline just how good the Charleston native’s 2024 season has been, she now leads the Hologic WTA Tour with 18 wins.

“It’s a little bit unnatural for me to be in the spotlight and be playing on a court like that with a ton of fans and TVs and eyes on me. It’s not my natural way,” she told reporters.

“But I feel I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it and just feeling like I can be myself even if there’s however many people watching.

The 23rd-seeded Navarro’s triumph sets up a tantalizing quarterfinal clash with either Maria Sakkari or Diane Parry.

Gauff defeated Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the first set of a 24-minute WTA 1000 competition, sealing a rare bagel at this stage. It was all one-way traffic from there on. At Indian Wells, on her 20th birthday, Coco Gauff easily defeated Elise Mertens in straight sets, while Aryna Sabalenka was unexpectedly eliminated.

Gauff advanced to the final eight for the second straight year, dropping just two games en route to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Mertens.

“I played really well. I feel really good. My best match of the tournament so far and I’m so happy to win on my birthday,” Gauff told the reporters.

“I feel like I’m close to my best level and when I’m playing like that it’s hard to beat me.”

Gauff will face either 11th-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina or unseeded Yuan Yue of China for a spot in the semis.

–IANS

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