Things are looking up for Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit. The hunt for her second career WTA title is on after she advanced on Monday afternoon by walkover. Kontaveit had raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set of her second round match in Indian Wells against the veteran Anastasija Sevastova, before the Latvian was forced to retire. According to WTA Insider, she did so recover from a viral illness.
Sevastova took Naomi Osaka the distance in a valiant losing effort in January at the round of 16 in this year’s Australian Open and, as a seed, had a first-round bye in the Californian desert. For Sevastova, the premature end of her tournament will thus surely be a disappointment, but will not care. Kontaveit will go on to play the mighty Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the round of 16, who claimed a straight-sets victory over Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium, 6-3 6-2. It will be a tough ask for the Estonian up against one of the most dangerous players in the sport, but if she can pick up the win, it will surely be talked about for years to come.
Other WTA match-ups
Angelique Kerber, seeded eighth but enduring a difficult start to the year, defeated Natalia Vikhlyantseva, 3-6 6-1 6-3, to claim a much-needed win. Kerber will go on to face ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka, who scored a routine victory over Lesia Tsurenko in straight sets, 6-2 7-5. Julia Goerges, however, fell to her compatriot Mona Barthel, 5-7 6-1 4-6, in a tightly contested match.
Venus Williams, meanwhile, continued her memorable week. After scoring superb victories over Andrea Petkovic of Germany and third seed Petra Kvitova, rallying from a set and a double break down against the Czech, she brushed aside qualifier Christina McHale of the USA, 6-2 7-5, to reach the last 16. She will face Barthel, in what looks like a winnable match for a player of her quality, for a place in the quarterfinals.
Belinda Bencic, recently the champion in Dubai, also advanced. Yet to drop a set, she crushed Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 6-2 to continue her fine run of form. But in the biggest match of the day, it will be Danielle Collins against the world #1 Naomi Osaka. Both have had fine starts to the season, with Collins reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at in Melbourne Park, and Osaka winning the title there. As a result, a thrilling match looks likely to be in prospect.
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