Aryna Sabalenka out of Indian Wells as Emma Navarro breakthrough hits new heights


Emma Navarro continued her breakthrough season with a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win over Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka to reach the quarter-finals in Indian Wells.

Navarro, who won her maiden WTA title in Hobart earlier this year, was able to outlast the world number two in a back and forth contest that lasted one hour and 56 minutes.

Two breaks in the decider helped Navarro claim the 18th win of her season, which puts her top of the list of most WTA wins in 2024 ahead of Iga Swiatek.

Sabalenka had been a runner-up in Indian Wells 12 months ago and entered this tie fresh from a solid win over Emma Raducanu, but has struggled for form since her latest victory in Melbourne.

It was Navarro that claimed the decisive opening break of the first set to move 5-3 up and an ace helped seal it to give the American the initiative.

Two-time Australian Open winner Sabalenka fought back in the second to force a decider, which saw both claim early breaks.

Navarro was able to follow up a run of three consecutive breaks between the pair with a crucial hold to open up a 4-1 lead and the 22-year-old never looked back to clinch the best win of her career.

Coco Gauff dominated Elise Mertens to win 6-0 6-2 on her 20th birthday and book her spot in the quarter-finals.

The dynamic American played her best tennis of the tournament so far, serving well and stepping into the court to overwhelm the Belgian 24th seed.

Mertens was unable to back up her win over Naomi Osaka in the previous round, hitting just four winners to 21 unforced errors in a match that lasted just over an hour.

Third seeded Gauff saw her section of the draw open up after Sabalenka’s loss and will face either 11th seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina or unseeded Yuan Yue of China for a spot in the semis.

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