Dubai finalist Kasatkina 'outsmarts' Wozniacki at Indian Wells as Halep reaches quarter-finals

There were also wins for Venus Williams, Angelique Kerber and Carla Suarez Navarro

Mar 12, 2018; Indian Wells, CA, USA;  Daria Kasatkina (RUS) during her third round match against Sloane Stephens (not pictured) BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

World No 1 Simona Halep and Venus Williams punched their tickets to the Indian Wells quarter-finals, while Caroline Wozniacki suffered another exit at the hands of Russia's Daria Kasatkina.

Halep breezed through her fourth round match with a 7-5, 6-1 win over China's Wang Qiang and eighth seed Venus Williams faced a stern test from Anastasija Sevastova but held on for a 7-6 , 6-4 victory.

The 20-year-old Kasatkina, who has beaten all four reigning grand slam champions in the past year and reached the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last month, continued her fine form with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over world No 2 Wozniacki.

Kasatkina recorded her second straight win over Wozniacki, having also beaten the Australian Open champion at the St Petersburg tournament last month.

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"I'm playing my best matches against the best players," she said. "But if you want to be on the top, you have to beat the top players. So quite a simple rule."

Kasatkina improved to 11-6 on the WTA Tour season as she seeks to better her quarter-final appearance at Indian Wells in 2016.

Kasatkina hit one ace, won 54 per cent of her first serves and broke Wozniacki's serve six times in the one hour, 40 minute match.

"She outsmarted me today," Wozniacki said. "But, you know, at least I tried, and I tried to do what I thought I needed to do out there today. I just couldn't execute as well as I wanted to."

epa06602236 Angelique Kerber of Germany in action against Caroline Garcia of France during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 13 March 2018.  EPA/PAUL BUCK

It was a disappointing exit for Wozniacki, who finally silenced her critics earlier this year with her first grand slam title in Melbourne, where she defeated Halep in the final. Wozniacki had a chance to get the No 1 back but she needed to win the Indian Wells title to do it.

Kasatkina said she is starting to believe in herself, especially when she faces top 10 players.

"In the beginning it was really tough because I was really nervous going on the big stages against big players," she said. "But now with experience and with time I'm getting into it. I'm getting pretty confident at this level."

Kasatkina next plays 10th seed Angelique Kerber, of Germany, who roared past seventh seeded Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-1.

Meanwhile, Halep, who is one of two former champions left in the draw, is now 17-1 on the season having already won a title in both singles and doubles at Shenzhen, China.

epa06601371 Simona Halep of Romania in action against Wang Qiang of China during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 13 March 2018.  EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Halep advances to the quarter-finals where she will face unseeded Petra Martic of Croatia who beat Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 7-6.

Halep called for a timeout in the first set so her coach Darren Cahill could come down to the court to discuss strategy.

"It was really important, because he just told me what I have to do. I knew that I had to change something, but I didn't realize what it was exactly," she said. "So it was a good chat. I did exactly what he said after that."

Venus Williams survived a difficult fourth round test to beat Latvia's Sevastova 7-6, 6-4 just one day after beating sister Serena in a third round contest. It was the first time Venus has beaten Serena since 2014 in Montreal.

Mar 13, 2018; Indian Wells, CA, USA;  Venus Williams (USA) during her third round match against Anastasia Sevastova (not pictured) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

She and Serena usually meet later in the draw in the semis or the championship match.

"It was not an easy match to figure out," Venus said of her victory Tuesday. "She has everything in her game. And it was a quick comeback from yesterday, where you have the emotions of, 'Hey, this feels like a final. But guess what, you're only in the fourth round.'"

Williams, who is the oldest female player in the draw at 37, rallied in the second set against Sevastova to book her spot in the quarter-finals.

Williams next faces Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain who rolled past Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4.

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