INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - Naomi Osaka continued her consistent run by beating Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 to reach the women’s singles quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.
In the first meeting between the ascendant young players, Osaka, currently ranked 44th in the world, overcame a second-set scare and fought back to pull off the fourth-round victory over world No. 58 Sakkari at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
In the third game of the third set, Osaka broke after the fourth deuce on a double fault by Sakkari, who had not dropped a set in her first three matches. On her way to meeting the Japanese, Sakkari upset 21st-ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty and 16th-ranked American Coco Vanderweghe.
“She can be tricky with her high bouncing shots and I was forced into mistakes in the second set,” said Osaka, who was seen slapping her thigh to calm herself in the final set.
Aiming for her first WTA tour victory, the 20-year-old Osaka refocused in the third, something she said is a positive considering concentration has been a struggle for her the past.
Osaka will face five-seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in her next match on Wednesday.
In the third round of the men’s singles, 109th-ranked Taro Daniel suffered a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Leonardo Mayer of Argentina and failed to make the round of 16.
“It’s disappointing I lost but I have to say my opponent played better than me today. He didn’t give me a chance to attack his second serves and he didn’t make mistakes either,” said Daniel, who did not force a single break point.
Elsewhere at Indian Wells, Venus Williams defeated Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals as the oldest woman in the draw.
The 37-year-old American was coming off a straight-set victory over younger sister Serena a night earlier, ending a three-match skid against her sibling.
“It was a quick turnaround from last night when it feels like, ‘Hey, this is a final to you’re only in the fourth round,’ ” Williams said on court.
Playing under cloudy skies in 27-degree heat, Williams had her hands full with Sevastova, who used drop shots, top spin, lobs and jerked her 10-years-older opponent side to side.
“It was not an easy match to figure out,” Williams said. “She has everything in her game. I had the crowd behind me and that felt good.”
After early losses in her first two tournaments of the year, Williams hasn’t dropped a set at Indian Wells, where she has yet to reach the final in six previous appearances.
Simona Halep is on track to retain her No. 1 world ranking after defeating Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-1 in the fourth round.
Halep is the only former Indian Wells winner left in the women’s draw after No. 20 Daria Kasatkina upset No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 7-5. Wozniacki blew a 3-0 lead in the first set and was on the run most of the match before losing for the second time this year to the 20-year-old Russian.
By reaching the quarterfinals, Kasatkina is projected to surpass her career-best ranking of 17th. She has beaten all four current Grand Slam titleholders in the past year, including U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens in straight sets this week. Halep improved to 17-1 this year and needs only to reach the final to stay at the top. If not, Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Halep in the Australian Open final, could replace her if the Dane wins the title. Halep and Wozniacki are the only former Indian Wells winners left in the women’s draw.
Next up for Halep is Petra Martic of Croatia, who beat Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
American teenager Amanda Anisimova’s run of success ended in a 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) loss to No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.
Anisimova, a 16-year-old wild card, won her first three WTA Tour matches at Indian Wells, beating Pauline Parmentier, No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova without dropping a set.
“She’s 16, so she’s not scared,” Pliskova said of Anisimova. “You can see she’s hitting the ball without thinking. But everybody is playing like this when they are 16. I think this will change a little bit in the future, but for sure the game is good and not really any weakness. I think everything is pretty solid.”
On the men’s side, Gael Monfils retired in the second set with a back injury trailing fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 3-1.
Monfils used an eight-minute injury timeout in the second set to get his back worked on before returning to the court and getting broken in fourth game. He then walked to the net and ended the match.
Herbert moved on to a fourth-round matchup with Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who upset No. 2 seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4.
Cilic won 19 of 23 points on his first serve, but failed to convert four break points against 31st-seeded Kohlschreiber, who snapped a 12-match skid against top-10 opponents.
Herbert remains in contention for the $1 million bonus offered to a player who sweeps the singles and doubles titles.
No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina defeated No. 29 David Ferrer of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) for the fifth straight time.