No.8 seed Angelique is back into the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals for the second year in a row after edging past No.9 seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets.
Reported by WTATennis.com
After easing through the first set, Kerber had a battle on her hands as Sabalenka stormed back and got ahead a double break in the third – but the three-time Grand Slam champion responded emphatically to complete the comeback, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
It was one-way traffic for the German in the opening set as Kerber absorbed everything Sabalenka sent her way and returned it with interest. As a result, Sabalenka found herself wracking up unforced errors as she tried to go for bigger and bigger shots.
As a result, Kerber was able to apply the pressure to the Sabalenka serve, creating a break opportunity on each of the Belarusian’s service games and reeling off three breaks in a row to claim the opening set.
Kerber made it eight games in a row when she opened the second set with a 2-0 lead, looking ready to race across the finish line. But Sabalenka found her range in a big way after a brief on-court coaching break with Dmitry Tursunov, breaking straight back and playing more measured tennis to even the score at 2-2.
Sabalenka scored the breakthrough at 4-3 and raised her level on the serve tremendously – she didn’t drop a single point on serve the rest of the set – and forced a decider. She continued to steamroll in the start of the third set, going up a double break to lead 4-1.
But the match had a final twist as Kerber rallied once more, edging through the last five games in a row to book her spot in the quarterfinals – as well as seal her first Top 10 win of the year.
Up next will be an even bigger battle for Kerber, who is set to take on an in-form Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. Williams edged past Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day to advance.