Indian Wells: Berrettini reaches 4th round, Swiatek books quarterfinal berth

Matteo Berrettini shook off mid-match doldrums to reach the fourth round of the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters on Tuesday as Iga Swiatek led the way into the women's quarterfinals.

Matteo Berrettini in action.   -  AP

World number six Matteo Berrettini shook off mid-match doldrums to reach the fourth round of the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters on Tuesday as fourth-ranked Iga Swiatek led the way into the women's quarterfinals.

Italy's Berrettini, the highest-ranked player left in his half of the draw, defeated South African Lloyd Harris 6-4, 7-5.

The 25-year-old Italian, owner of five ATP titles but seeking his first Masters 1000 crown, shot to prominence when he reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021, losing to Novak Djokovic.

The Australian Open semi-finalist is the second-highest ranked man left in the draw behind fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal after the exits of Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

But he admitted he'll need to do better after a victory in which he trailed 4-1 in the second set.

He fired 12 aces to claim the victory, polishing it off in straight sets despite trailing 4-1 in the second.

"I got a little bit nervous," he said. "I didn't like how I handled the start of the second set. I let the anger out a little bit, which helped.

"I found the right balance in order to break him in the important moment and I then had the momentum."

A dozen aces also helped as Berrettini won five straight games to secure the victory and set up a fourth round clash with Miomir Kecmanovic, a 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 winner over Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands.

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Poland's Swiatek rallied for a thrid straight match to reach the last eight with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over crafty German veteran Angelique Kerber.

Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, is coming off a title in Doha last month, but the 20-year-old admitted it took her awhile to figure out how to tackle Kerber - another former Grand Slam champion.

"For sure it was really hard playing against her," Swiatek said. "She's such an experienced player. It's never easy.

"Truth be told, I wasn't really sure what my tactics should be, if I should be more aggressive or play more patient game," she said. "But at the end I think I made the right decision in right time, in right moments of the match. I'm pretty happy about that because in important, you know, moments in second and third, I was winning points."

She said Kerber showed her a different game than she'd expected after practicing with the German.

"I felt like she wanted to use her experience and kind of trick me," Swiatek said. "But I like that because it's like a new experience for me. You're not going to get that from many players because not many players have been on tour for such a long time.

"I'm pretty proud of myself that I could win against such a smart player," added Swiatek, who next faces American Madison Keys.

Super-pleased Halep

Keys ended the run of British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-4.

Simona Halep in action.   -  AP

 

Former world number one Simona Halep of Romania, seeded 24th, swept into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over 26th-seeded compatriot Sorana Cirstea.

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Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion is in the quarters for the fifth time at Indian Wells, where she lifted the trophy in 2015.

"I think I played super good in the first set," Halep said. "The second set I started to miss a little bit. But in the big picture it was a great match and I'm super-pleased with the victory."

Halep will play Petra Martic for a place in the semifinals. Croatia's Martic beat Liudmila Samsonova 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.

Sixth seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece advanced with a victory over Australian qualifier Daria Saville, who was trailing 4-1 when she retired with a left thigh injury.

In other men's matches, American John Isner powered past Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3.

Isner, who towered over his opponent by 38 centimeters, fired 13 aces and didn't face a break point.

Russian world number seven Andrey Rublev had a much simpler outing against local hope Frances Tiafoe, closing out the men's action for the evening with a 6-3, 6-4 win in 70 minutes.

Rublev, 24, will face Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the quarter-finals with the 11th-ranked Pole ending the run of another American Steve Johnson 7-6(7), 6-3 earlier in the day.

Defending champion Badosa reaches quarters

Spain's Paula Badosa kept her Indian Wells WTA title defense on track, holding off determined Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.

Badosa, seeded fifth, saved five of the six break points she faced and kept last year's US Open runner-up under pressure -- converting three of her 12 break chances.

"Today was very tough," said Badosa, who lifted the trophy last October in a tournament moved from its usual March date because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Leylah is an amazing player, very fast and good timing. I knew I had to fight and serve very well. I think I did that the entire match."

Badosa gained the upper hand in the second set with a break for 3-2, then saved a pair of break points in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead.

"In the important moments, like 4-3, down the break points, I think I stayed very composed," Badosa said.

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