Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina on the way to a third-round victory over Spain's Paula Badosa at Indian Wells
Indian Wells (United States) (AFP) - Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina punched her ticket to the fourth round at Indian Wells on Monday with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over former champion Paula Badosa.
Rybakina, ranked 10th in the world after a runner-up finish to Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open in January, had lost her last three matches against Badosa.
She said a solid service game and the upper hand on a few key points allowed her to turn the tables on Badosa – her doubles partner in the California desert.
She fired nine aces and benefitted from seven double faults by Badosa, converting four of her break point chances against the Spaniard while dropping her own serve just once.
The contest was part of a Stadium Court programme that featured top seeds Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek battling to reach the round of 16 in the combined WTA and ATP Masters 1000 event.
Spain’s Alcaraz, who can return to number one in the world with a third Masters 1000 triumph, faced Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands while women’s number one Swiatek – winner of the French and US Opens last year and the defending Indian Wells champion – faced Canadian Bianca Andreescu.
Swiatek is seeking to become just the second woman, after Martina Navratilova in 1990-91, to win back-to-back Indian Wells titles.
Andreescu won Indian Wells in 2019, springboard to a breakout season that included a US Open crown.
In other matches, men’s defending champion Taylor Fritz took on Argentina’s Sebastian Baez while former world number one Andy Murray faced Jack Draper in an all-British affair.
Fourth-seeded Ons Jabeur was out for revenge against Czech Marketa Vondrousova, who upset the Tunisian in the second round of the Australian Open.
Women’s fifth seed Caroline Garcia advanced with 6-4, 6-7 (5⁄7), 6-1 victory over Canadian Leylah Fernandez, a rematch of an Australian Open second-round clash won by the French player.
Garcia’s early aggressiveness paid off with the lone break of the opening set. After Fernandez, the 2021 US Open runner-up, grabbed the second set tiebreaker Garcia steadied herself to pull away in the third.
Garcia saved two break points on her opening service game, and then she was off and running.
“The beginning of the last set was very important,” Garcia said. “She was putting a lot of pressure on me and I was a little bit on edge after losing the second set in a tiebreaker.
“I tried to stay with more intensity and fighting. That’s what I did better in the third set, I fought better and I put more pressure.”
Garcia, in the round of 16 for the fourth time, will fight for a first Indian Wells quarter-final berth against Romanian Sorana Cirstea, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over American Bernarda Pera.