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Badosa, Swiatek reach Indian Wells quarters

Paula Badosa of Spain plays a backhand against Leylah Fernandez of Canada in their fourth round match on Day 9 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 (March 16 in Manila) in Indian Wells, California. AFP PHOTO
Paula Badosa of Spain plays a backhand against Leylah Fernandez of Canada in their fourth round match on Day 9 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 (March 16 in Manila) in Indian Wells, California. AFP PHOTO 

INDIAN WELLS: Spain’s Paula Badosa kept her Indian Wells WTA title defense on track on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), holding off determined Canadian Leylah Fernandez to reach the quarterfinals in the California desert.

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.

World number four Iga Swiatek, the highest-ranked player remaining in the women’s field, rallied from a set down for a third straight match to book her quarterfinal berth, beating crafty German veteran Angelique Kerber 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

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

“Truth be told, I wasn’t really sure what my tactics should be, if I should be more aggressive or play a more patient game,” she said. “But in the end, I think I made the right decision at the right time, in the right moments of the match.”

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.”

Swiatek next faces American Madison Keys, who beat British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-4.

Former world No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania, seeded 24th, swept into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over 26th-seeded compatriot Sorana Cirstea.

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.

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.

Sakkari will play Elena Rybakina, who beat Viktorija Golubic 7-6 (7/5), 6-2. — Agence France-Presse

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