Azarenka into fourth round, Bencic ousted at Indian Wells

While Victoria Azarenka defeated Zhang Shuai in straight sets, Belinda Bencic crashed out of the Indian Wells Masters with a 4-6, 6-3, 3-6 loss to Magdalena Rybarikova.

Two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka dispatched Zhang Shuai in straight sets.

Former champion Victoria Azarenka was a class apart as she dispatched Zhang Shuai in straight sets at the BNP Paribas Open on Monday. Zhang was the Cinderella story of the Australian Open in January, winning through to the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, having never won a main-draw match in a grand slam heading into 2016.

However, the Chinese star was no match for 2012 champion and 13th seed Azarenka, who advanced to the round of 16 via a 6-4, 6-3 victory at Indian Wells. Australian Open semifinalist Johanna Konta also progressed at the expense of Denisa Allertova 6-4, 6-1, while Monica Puig fell to Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2).


Timea Bacsinszky overcame a nasty fall to see off Eugenie Bouchard in three sets as she advanced to the last 16. Bacsinszky was floored in the first game of second set, requiring a medical timeout after suffering multiple cuts having attempted to return Bouchard's forehand at 15-0.

The Swiss 12th seed, however, did go on to win 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Samantha Stosur also moved into the last 16 via a three-set win over in-form Christina McHale. McHale dispatched Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Garcia en route to the third round but she came unstuck against 27th-seeded Australian Stosur, who emerged victorious 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.


Belinda Bencic, Ana Ivanovic and Elina Svitolina were the three seeds to crash out in the third round. Bencic - the seventh seed - headlined the casualties, was upstaged by Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Former champion Ivanovic lost to fellow seed Karolina Pliskova, who posted a straightforward 6-2, 6-0 victory. Svitolina, meanwhile, was no match for Roberta Vinci as the ninth seed triumphed 6-1, 6-3.


Bencic had 10 break-point chances but only converted three in her loss to Rybarikova. Stosur tallied 12 double faults, but she still beat McHale. Konta fired down six aces in her straight-set win over Allertova.


Following her shock loss to Rybarikova, Bencic wrote an apology to the chair umpire via Twitter: "Wow just realized I didn't shake my umpires hand!!!! I'm so sorry I somehow totally forgot it! Sorry to the umpire!"

"Just play and stay focused every single day. Stay calm in the court and outside the court, and just enjoy the life," Vinci - the 2015 US Open finalist - does not have any secrets to her late-blooming success.

"Last year I didn't lose any first rounds. Now I'd lost twice in a row so I'm just happy to have some matches and looking forward to the next one," said Pliskova, who is on a roll at Indian Wells, having suffered first-round exits in Doha and Dubai previously.


After stuttering into the fourth round, world number one Serena Williams returns to action against qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko on Tuesday. Barbara Strycova stands in the way of defending champion Simona Halep and the quarterfinals. Third seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Jelena Jankovic will go head-to-head in a battle of the past two runners-up at Indian Wells.

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