2015 BNP Paribas Open champion Simona Halep has won her way into the fourth round of the Indian Wells Premier event for the fifth time in six years, but it didn’t come easy for the second seed. Halep fought off a tough test from 114th ranked Kateryna Kozlova, ultimately prevailing 7-6 (3), 7-5 in the momentum switching 1 hour and 47 minute encounter.
"I think she played really well. When I was leading the match, she played without fear and I felt like she was playing much better in those games. It was difficult for me to close those sets. But I'm actually proud that I could do that.
It was also cold a little bit, so the conditions were not easy today. But I think it was a good level of tennis, both of us. We played okay," Halep said after the match. Halep has returned to Indian Wells every year since making her debut in 2011.
As well as winning the title in 2015, she has reached the semi-finals on a further two occasions and the quarterfinals once more. "The place, first, and the fact that we can be so close to the fans and so many people are coming.
Everything, it's open. We can share the energy, the love of tennis. So I think these things makes this tournament very special, and also, you know, the views. Everywhere you go, you have a beautiful view. Also from the court, when you practice, you see the mountains.
It's beautiful, and that's why we really love the place." Halep has avoided a rematch against her 2017 Roland Garros successor Jelena Ostapenko. Instead she will face Marketa Vondrousova next, after the unseeded Czech upset Ostapenko in three sets 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
It will be their first meeting. "It's going to be, again, something new. It's not easy. But I'm ready. So I'm just focusing on myself and we will see how it's gonna be."