Russian 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina scored an impressive win at the Indian Wells WTA tournament on Tuesday to reach the quarter-finals in the California desert.
World No 48 Kasatkina, who does not turn 19 until May, breezed by French Open semi-finalist and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Timea Bacsinszky 6-4, 6-2 in a topsy-turvy but battling display.
In a counterintuitive first set, Kasatkina lost serve in the first game, broke the Swiss back three later for 2-2, broke her again for 4-2, dropped serve yet another time in the next game for 4-3 and then finally broke Bacsinszky for good in the final game to take the set at 6-4.
The second set saw her lose service once more, but it was inconsequential at 4-0 after she had already broken Bacsinszky twice in the opening four games.
The win over a top-25 opponent is Kasatkina’s second of the season, after beating Venus Williams in Auckland just after the New Year. She reached the semi-finals in St Petersburg last month, marching through lower-ranked opponents before losing to a fellow teen, Swiss Belinda Bencic.
She debuted on the WTA Tour in 2013, but only played top-level tournaments sporadically until late last year, when she mounted qualifying runs into the main draw at Bucharest, Bad Gastein and then the US Open, where she reached the last 32 before losing to Kristina Mladenovic. She also made it to the last 32 at the Australian Open in January, where she was beaten 6-1, 6-1 by Serena Williams.
This is now her fourth trip to the quarters at a WTA-level event.
Polish third seed Agnieska Radwanska meanwhile beat Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals, where she will face world No 9 Petra Kvitova.
Radwanska, a runner-up here two years ago, defeated 2010 winner Jankovic in a fourth-round tilt between two of the game’s best movers that produced a slew of entertaining exchanges.
“We’ve played so many good matches before, and I just remember that it’s a lot of running, a lot of rallies and I really prepared for that today,” said Radwanska, who has now won all six of her meetings with Jankovic on hard courts.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova ended the Cinderella run of American qualifier Nicole Gibbs, rallying for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win to book her spot in the quarters.
Kvitova imposed her left-handed power to overtake Gibbs, swatting 27 winners to 11 for the American and claiming 18 of 25 points at net to prevail.
“It’s always tough coming back after losing the first (set),” said the Czech, who has needed three sets in each of her three victories. “We both played really well in the third set so I was happy to get the win.”
World No 1 Serena Williams also entered the quarter-finals, routing the 70th ranked Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-2 on the main stadium court.
Williams, who is playing here for just the second time since ending her 14-year boycott of the California desert tournament, will face defending champion Simona Halep in the quarters, after the Romanian advanced on Barbora Strycova’s retirement while leading 6-3, 1-0.
Last year at Indian Wells, Halep won their semi-final without even striking a ball after Williams pulled out of the tournament with a knee injury.
That withdrawal cut short Williams’ first Indian Wells campaign since 2001, when spectators booed her during the final and jeered her sister, Venus, and father Richard Williams when the pair arrived to watch the match.
Williams said she is grateful that the boos have turned to cheers.
“Every time I step on the court people cheer for me. It is just a different feeling,” Williams said following her win over Bondarenko.
Halep moved on to the quarter-finals when her opponent Strycova retired in the second set with a respiratory problem.
Williams has dominated Halep over the years beating her six times in seven matches. Halep’s best moment against her was a straight sets win, 6-0, 6-2, in 2014 in Singapore.
“I like her game. She’s a fighter. She killed me at one point so I will have to be ready,” Williams said of facing Halep on Wednesday.
They are joined in the last eight by Victoria Azarenka, who held off Samantha Stosur 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Britain’s Johanna Konta 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 and Magdalena Rybarikova, who benefited from Roberta Vinci’s retirement, round out the quarter-final field.
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