WTA Indian Wells: Venus, Kerber, Pliskova and Sabalenka all advance


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WTA Indian Wells: Venus, Kerber, Pliskova and Sabalenka all advance

The 21st seed Anett Kontaveit is through to the fourth round at Indian Wells after spending only 27 minutes on the court against the 11th seed Anastasija Sevastova who retired due to a virus while trailing 5-0. Kontaveit saved all three break points she faced and took Sevastova's serve twice before the Latvian decided to end the clash.

The 5th seed Karolina Pliskova enjoyed a great day at the office as well, ousting a qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3, 6-2 in 66 minutes, serving at 71% and firing 13 aces. Ysaline did break her twice but she needed more than that to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard, suffering five breaks of serve and dropping half of the points behind the initial shot.

They needed some time to find the rhythm, opening the match with four straight breaks before Pliskova grabbed another one in game six before closing the set with a hold at 16 in game nine. The Czech never looked back, dropping four points on serve in set number two and stealing rival's serve in games one and seven to march towards the finish line and enter the last 16.

After a heroic win over Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams took down a qualifier Christina McHale 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 25 minutes, losing serve four times and dominating on the return to erase that deficit. McHale lost more than 60% of the points in her games, getting broken seven times from nine chances she offered to the veteran who came from a 5-3 down in the second set to rattle off the last four games and move into the fourth round 22 years after she did that for the first time in 1997!

Mona Barthel needed two hours and 33 minutes to take down the 15th seed Julia Goerges 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 in the match that offered 32 break points! Thanks to that second set, Julia won nine points more overall although it was Barthel who scored three breaks in the deciding set to move over the top and continue a great run after a poor start of the season.

The 9th seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 23 minutes, wasting a huge lead in the second set and giving serve away three times but doing enough to prevail in straight sets. Tsurenko never found a rhythm on serve, dropping 56% of the points behind the initial shot and standing powerless against deep and accurate shots of her opponent who broke her six times.

The Ukrainian fought back from 5-2 down in the second to level the score before Aryna claimed eight of the last nine points to seal the deal and stay on the title course. The 8th seed Angelique Kerber ousted a qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 53 minutes, overcoming a slow start to create no less than 20 break points and converting seven of those to control the scoreboard after the first set.

The German faced just three break points in the last two sets and the Russian couldn't follow the same pace, fading from the court in set number two and losing serve three times in the decider to propel Kerber over the finish line.