The third round of the women's draw at Indian Wells reached its conclusion overnight, as more seeds were sent packing, but there was joy for Johanna Konta, who cruised into the last-16.
Konta continues to shine on the big stage
Johanna Konta is through to the last-16 at Indian Wells for the first time in her career after another convincing performance on the big stage. The 25th seed defeated Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic in the 3rd round, just like she did at the same stage during her magnificent run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, and she was just as clinical. Allertova, who knocked out the woman who finally put pay to Konta's Melbourne fairytale ride, the champion herself Angelique Kerber, in the previous round, couldn't spring another surprise, as the Brit cruised through 6-4, 6-1.
Another Czech awaits next for Konta in the form of Karolina Pliskova, who trounced Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-0 in just 48 minutes. This was the pair's fourth meeting, their second this year, and just has been the case on the previous three occasions, former world no.1 and 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic again simply had no answer to her opponent's guile & tenacious game. The 18th seed has reached round 4 for the second consecutive year, although this time, Pliskova will be hoping to book her place in the quarter-finals, after losing to eventual champion Simona Halep twelve months ago. To do that, she must overcome Konta.
Bencic bows out as Vinci progresses
With Kerber, Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro (who withdrew from the tournament prior to her first match) all falling at the first hurdle, Belinda Bencic, seeded 7th in California, was suddenly the top seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw. However, as has become the trend on the WTA Tour in 2016, being seeded has usually granted an early exit from a tournament, and the Swiss youngster couldn't take advantage of this particular section of the draw opening up. Bencic, who turned 19 last week, was sent packing by Magdalena Rybarikova, who edged a close three set match.
Next up for the Slovak will be Roberta Vinci, after last year's US Open runner-up breezed past Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine. The ninth seed, who saved match points during her previous match against Margarita Gasparyan, was much more comfortable this time around, and she now takes the mantle from Bencic (who she recently defeated to take the St Petersburg title) as the highest seed remaining in the bottom half of a draw which is becoming increasingly bereft of seeds altogether.
Bacsinszky beats Bouchard
Timea Bacsinszky has made is back to back wins for just the second time this year as she prevailed against Genie Bouchard, who had headed into the match with the joint most wins on tour this season (15 with Aga Radwanska), following a wretched 2015. However, it was the 12th seed who got over the line in a match which went the distance and also saw the Swiss suffering a nasty tumble which required a medical timeout lasting more than ten minutes. Yet Bacsinszky overcame that and her opponent to book her spot in the fourth round.
Awaiting for her will be the 18 year old Russian Daria Kasatkina, who saved match points during her round 3 clash with Monica Puig. The 2014 French Open girls' singles champion has emerged as the latest teenage sensation in a pool of gifted and talented teenagers in recent months and she is making her first appearance in this tournament. Having reached the third round at the Australian Open and the semis on home soil in St Petersburg, Kasatkina will be hoping to carry on with her successful start to the year against Bacsinszky next.
Victorious Victoria sets Stosur showdown
2012 champion Victoria Azarenka safely progressed to the fourth round after defeating Australian Open quarter-finalist Shaui Zhang in a match which didn't get started until past midnight in the Californian desert. With the top seeds in her section of the draw falling around her, despite not being the highest seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw, Azarenka will now be to many favourite to work her way through and reach Saturday's final.
Things won't be easy though when she comes up against Sam Stosur for a place in the quarter-finals. Stosur, known for her continuous fighting abilities, needed these to battle past Christina McHale, who sent Muguruza packing in her previous match, in an edgy three set encounter. Of course America will always hold a special place in Stosur's heart, with the pinnacle of her career coming in New York in 2011 when she became US Open champion, and she will hope to draw back those memories when facing Azarenka.
Indian Wells Round 3 Results:
Magdalena Rybarikova bt Belinda Bencic (7) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Roberta Vinci (9) bt Elina Svitolina (17) 6-1, 6-3
Victoria Azarenka (13) bt Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-3
Sam Stosur (26) bt Christina McHale 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Daria Kasatkina bt Monica Puig 6-4, 3-6, 7-6
Timea Bacsinszky (12) bt Genie Bouchard 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
Karolína Pliskova (18) bt Ana Ivanovic (14) 6-2, 6-0
Johanna Konta (25) bt Denisa Allertova 6-4, 6-1
All eight of the women's last-16 matches take place today and we will have a round-up of the action tomorrow to see who will book their place in the quarter-finals. The line-up:
Serena Williams (1) - Katerina Bondarenko
Barbora Strycova - Simona Halep (5)
Aga Radwanska (3) - Jelena Jankovic (19)
Nicole Gibbs - Petra Kvitova (8)
Magdalena Rybarikova - Roberta Vinci (9)
Victoria Azarenka (13) - Sam Stosur (26)
Daria Kasatkina - Timea Bacsinszky (12)
Karolína Pliskova (18) - Johanna Konta (25)