Twenty-two years after she had reached the quarter-final at Indian Wells, the everlasting Venus Williams is back into the last eight in the desert, ousting Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 45 minutes. This was their fourth match and the fourth win for the American who won four points more than her rival, fending three out of five break points and scoring four breaks from ten opportunities to seal the deal and stay on the title course.
Barthel suffered three straight breaks in the opening set, finding herself 5-2 down before pulling one break back, not enough to get back into contention as Venus sealed it with a hold at 5-4. The second set was more fluid and the American clinched it with a rock-solid performance on serve, breaking Mona at 3-3 and cementing the triumph with a hold at 15 in game ten to secure the place in the quarters.
The 5th seed Karolina Pliskova is there as well following a 7-6, 4-6 6-2 victory against the 21st seed Anett Kontaveit in two hours and three minutes, winning 14 points more than her opponent but still having to work hard to prevail.
Kontaveit suffered five breaks from seven chances she gave to Pliskova and had her opportunities on the return to extend the match, creating 15 break points but converting only four to hit the exit door. Karolina led 6-5 in the opener when she lost serve at 15, staying focused in the tie break for a 7-0 and an initial advantage.
Trailing 4-3 in set number two, the Estonian grabbed three straight games for a 6-4 and an excellent chance to go all the way now after finding the way to tame the rival's initial shot. Instead of that, Karolina excelled her game, winning the last four games from 2-2 to advance as the winner following a break at love in game eight for a perfect ending.
The 6th seed Elina Svitolina had to give her 120% to oust the rising Aussie Ashleigh Barty 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 in three hours and 12 minutes, in what has been the longest match on the WTA Tour so far in 2019! Elina defeated Ashleigh for the fifth time in as many encounters in what was a real cracker, with almost every set lasting for more than an hour!
Barty, who would have cracked the top-10 had she won this one, took four points more overall although not the most important ones, with six breaks on each side from 38 points they had to play against overall! The opening set saw just seven of those and it offered the ultimate drama, with Svitolina getting broken in game ten while serving for the opener, having to save a set point at 5-6 and extra four in the tie break that she eventually won 10-8 after more than an hour.
The second set brought 17 break chances and a real drama, with Barty who bounced back from a 5-3 deficit to steal it 7-5, saving two match points on serve in game ten and converting the sixth set point in game 12 to bring it home and send the clash into a decider.
There, the young Aussie had a 3-1 advantage before Elina rattled off four straight games, suffering a break while serving for the match at 5-3 but crossing the finish line first with a pivotal break in the tenth game to emerge as the winner and stay on the title course.