Navarro beats Sabalenka in 3 sets, Gauff advances to quarters on her birthday at Indian Wells


INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Emma Navarro beat second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open for the biggest win of the young American’s career on Wednesday.

Navarro improved to 18-5 this year, with her victories leading the WTA Tour. She is 11-2 in three-set matches. The 2021 NCAA singles champion from Virginia reached her fourth quarterfinal of the year and first at the 1000 level.

“I was able to stay aggressive on returns even though she has a really good serve,” Navarro said in an on-court interview. “Played some better service games in the third set and just was able to put a lot of pressure on her throughout. I think that’s what made the difference.”

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, trailed 1-4 in the third set and won just one more game before getting broken on Navarro’s second match point.

“It’s never easy coming out and playing an opponent like that, so experienced and just so talented, obviously,” Navarro said. “She made it really tough on me today, but I was able to play some good tennis in the big moments.”

The 22-year-old American won the title at Hobart early in the year.

Coco Gauff celebrated her 20th birthday with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Elise Mertens to reach the quarters for the second consecutive year in the Southern California desert.

Mertens, who knocked off Naomi Osaka in the third round, trailed 6-0, 2-0 before she broke Gauff and then fought through a five-deuce game on her serve for a 2-2 tie. But Gauff reeled off the final four games to improve to 4-0 in her career against the Belgian.

Gauff won 84% of her first serves and won six of eight break points.

On the men’s side, No. 9 seed Casper Ruud rallied to beat Gael Monfils 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis



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