WTA INDIAN WELLS - Venus, Halep and Pliskova march to the quarters


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WTA INDIAN WELLS - Venus, Halep and Pliskova march to the quarters

Venus Williams turned back time and reached the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals for the third time in her career. The No.8 seed has yet to drop a set as she backed her first victory over Serena since 2014 with a 7-6 6-4 win over No.21 Anastasija Sevastova, bidding for sixth Top 10 win of career, who posted her best result here this year.

Venus broke Sevastova winning the point of the match involving a drop shot after an exhausting battle from the baseline and a high backhand volley on the Latvian's lob and served out the 763rd WTA main draw win. The oldest player in the draw, needing to reach the final to improve on her current ranking of No.8, can potentially return to the Top 5 if she wins the title and Karolina Pliskova does not reach the semifinal.

To reinforce their hopes, Venus has to beat Carla Suarez Navarro or wildcard Danielle Collins in the quarterfinals. World number one Simona Halep overcame a sluggish start to beat Wang Qiang 7-5 6-1 at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday and book a quarter-final against Petra Martic in the California desert.

Halep, bidding to become the 12th top seed to lift up the trophy and repeat her 2015 title-run, will spend her 18th and 19th weeks as World No.1 during Indian Wells, moving her past Jennifer Capriati (17 weeks) and Jelena Jankovic (18 weeks).

Only Wozniacki can usurp her atop the WTA rankings after Indian Wells, but she must win the title and hope Halep lose before the final. The turning point against Wang, projected to move to the Top 55, came after a string of unforced errors left Halep trailing 5-4 in the first set.

The Romanian has never lost to a player outside the Top 30 at Indian Wells with her worst by-ranking defeat coming to No.29 Martínez Sánchez in 2011. She asked Darren Cahill's advice and her coach suggested her to work longer points and reduce the error count.

Halep would lose only another game as Wang became increasingly impatient off the backhand side and gifted her opponent the chance to seal her 298th main draw win with her 29th unforced error. Halep will have to get past unseeded Croatian Martic, who has yet to drop a set so far.

The first Croat to reach the round 16 at Indian Wells since 1997 when Iva Majoli lost to Venus Williams collecting her first top 10 win, beat 6-3 7-6 Marketa Vondrousova. In the second set, Martic served for the match at 6-3 5-3 and got to 30-30, but Vondrousova came back and serve for the second set at 6-5.

The thought of going out in the fourth round, she said in the post-match interview, got in her head so she gave Vondrousova some unexpected hope. The teenager, however, went mentally off the match after a double fault on second serve at 3-3 in the tiebreak.

She struggled with her serve throughout the entire match, as the 11 double faults testify. Martic is now projected to move into the Top 40 by reaching the Round 16 improving her career-high ranking of No.42 set in 2012. No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova ended the fairytale week of the ninth 16-year-old player to make R16 at Indian Well.The Czech outclassed 6-1 7-6(2) Amanda Anisimova, the youngest player to record a Top 10 win since 2005 when Nicole Vaidisova defeated then No.9 Nadia Petrova to win the title in Bangkok.

"I think I started pretty well today. I was playing aggressive and she didn't have time to play her game," Pliskova said in the post-match interview. Along with Iva Majoli, at 16 years and 199 days, Anisimova is the youngest player to reach the R16 at Indian Wells.

Other players to go thus far at the tournament prior to 17th birthday are Anna Kournikova (1998, R16), Kim Clijsters (2000,R16), Lina Krasnoroutskaya (2001, R16) and Maria Sharapova (2004, R16). Pliskova won the first seven points of the match and made her opponent commit 13 unforced errors to just 5 winners.

In the second set Anisimova, going for back-to-back top 10 win, recovered from a break down and maintained the set on serve towards the tiebreak. But despite her 28 total winners, she wasn't able to match Pliskova who collected the last six points of the match and sealed the win thanks to an impressive 71% percent of service points won.

She reached the quarter-finals for the fifth time at WTA Premier Mandatory level, the third in Indian Wells. Needing to move to the semifinals to have a chance of staying in the Top 5, Pliskova will face Pliskova's victory sets up a quarterfinal encounter for the World No.5 against Naomi Osaka who defeated 6-1 5-7 6-1 Maria Sakkari.

Thanks to this win, the teenager will improve her career-high ranking of No.40. Playing the BNP Paribas Open for the second time, Osaka improved her best result in a Premier Mandatory event and became the first Japanese to make the quarter-finals here since 1996 when Kimiko Date lost to Martinez in the semifinals.

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