Aryna Sabalenka is stunned by home hope Emma Navarro in Indian Wells | tennis

Emma Navarro continued her breakthrough season with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka to reach the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

Navarro, who won her first WTA title in Hobart this year, outlasted the world No. 2 in a back-and-forth contest that lasted 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Two breaks in the decider helped Navarro to her 18th win of the season, putting her at the top of the list of most WTA wins in 2024, ahead of Iga Swiatek.

Sabalenka was second in Indian Wells 12 months ago and came into this match fresh from a solid win against Emma Raducanu, but she has struggled for form since her last win in Melbourne.

It was Navarro who secured the decisive opening break of the first set and took a 5-3 lead. An ace helped seal the break and give the 22-year-old American the initiative.

The two-time Australian Open winner fought back in the second set and forced a decider in which both grabbed early breaks.

Navarro was able to hold a decisive serve game after three consecutive breaks between the two to build a 4-1 lead, and the New Yorker never looked back, claiming the best win of her career.

Meanwhile, Coco Gauff dominated Elise Mertens, winning 6-0, 6-2 on her 20th birthday and securing her place in the quarter-finals. The dynamic American played her best tennis of the tournament so far, serving well and taking to the court to overwhelm the No. 24 seed Belgian.

Mertens was unable to secure her win against Naomi Osaka in the preliminary round, scoring just four game-winners with 21 unforced errors in a match that lasted just over an hour.

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Third seed Gauff’s part of the draw was free after Sabalenka’s defeat and she will face either 11th seed Russian Daria Kasatkina or unseeded Yuan Yue of China for a place in the semi-finals.

Luca Nardi was brought back down to earth with a straight sets loss to Tommy Paul. World number 123 Nardi had stunned Novak Djokovic in round three on Tuesday but was unable to reach the same level and lost to the American 6-4, 6-3.

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