American qualifier Nicole Gibbs continued her thunderous start to 2016 in fine style on Sunday afternoon, powering past Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova 6-0, 6-4 to book her place in the fourth round of the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. Gibbs, who is projected to move to a career high of number 73 in the world next Monday, will look to build on her sensational tournament against eighth seed Petra Kvitova on Tuesday.
Gibbs Powers Through Opening Set
Right off the bat, it was clear that Gibbs was looking to maximize her full counterpunching abilities to draw errors out of Shvedova, which she did to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. From there, the American qualifier continued to impress, jumping out to a 15-40 lead on her Kazakh counterpart's serve to give herself an opportunity to get that double break. Shvedova, however, was not prepared to concede another break of serve so quickly, and saved both break points right when both women were beginning to match each other shot-for-shot from the back of the court. But in the end, the American was too strong; Gibbs converting her fourth break point to go up 3-0.
From there, both women continued to trade blows from the back of the court which made for some excruciatingly long games. But much like in the opening three games of the match, Gibbs' consistency proved to be too much for Shvedova to handle, especially on the big points. As a result, the 23-year-old managed to gain the upper hand in the following three games to take a shutout opening set 6-0, though it was a lot closer than the lopsided score line might suggest.
Gibbs Withstands Fightback from Shvedova, Books Place in Last 16
The second set was a much tighter affair with both women making the most of their opportunities when they were given the chance. Beginning the set with an impressive hold at love, Shvedova was finally able to get on the board, and that seemed to be just what she needed to start making inroads into this match. Not to be outdone, Gibbs responded with an impressive hold of her own, followed by yet another break of the Shvedova serve to go a set and 2-1 to the good.
With her back up against the wall, the Kazakh number two was impressively able to come up with the goods, breaking straight back to draw level at 2-all. From there, both women exchanged a pair of holds each until the ninth game where Gibbs was beginning to apply more and more pressure from the receiving end. In the end, it was the American qualifier who was calling all the shots, breaking with a thunderous backhand winner to give herself an opportunity to serve out the win at 5-4. When given the chance to close out the match, Gibbs proved she needed no second bite of the cherry, converting her first match point to complete an impressive 6-0, 6-4 victory in an hour and 10 minutes.
"I thought I played a focused and efficient match today," Gibbs told VAVEL USA's Max Gao. "I came out of the gates strong, executing well and was rewarded with a 6-0 first set. After that, Shvedova dug in more, started serving better and did a better job taking it to me."
"In the end, I just tried to stay tough and make that extra ball during the physical points and that's what took me to the finish line."
Gibbs will now face eighth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova for a spot in the last eight. The pair have met twice before, with Kvitova winning both meetings in straight sets.