Sport Tennis Saville continues Indian Wells hot streak

Saville continues Indian Wells hot streak

Daria Saville
Daria Saville has reached the last eight of the Miami Open, defeating Lucia Bronzetti. Photo: Getty
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Daria Saville’s giant-killing run in Indian Wells has continued with victory over Elise Mertens propelling her into the round of 16 at the WTA 1000 event for the first time.

Qualifier Saville grinded past 20th-seeded Mertens 6-3 4-6 6-2 in 2 hours and 55 minutes to back up her victory over ninth seed Ons Jabeur in the previous round, which was her first top-10 win since 2018.

The second-straight upset continues a superb comeback season for former world no.20 Saville, who has battled an achilles injury in recent seasons that eventually required surgery.

While the Russia-born Australian started 2022 off slowly, she has found form on her travels and last month in Mexico defeated Emma Raducanu in the longest match of the WTA season when the top seed retired after a more than three-hour battle.

Saville told the WTA website a more defensive approach, which better suits her game, has changed her fortunes.

“I was trying to hold the baseline and I don’t like that. I’m way too rushed, I don’t have time,” she said.

“The reason why we did that was because of my achilles. We thought if I’m more aggressive; hopefully, I’ll run less, but it just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t like it.”

Starting the tournament ranked 409th, Saville will soar up the rankings regardless of the outcome of her meeting with world No.6 Maria Sakkari — who she defeated in their only previous encounter at a Challenger event in San Antonio, Texas, in 2016.

Greece’s Sakkari made light work of Czech Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-0 in their third-round match.

Sakkari won all of her first-serve points in the first set and dropped just one in the second, as Kvitova struggled with her serve, producing five double-faults across the 66-minute affair in California.

It was the second time that Sakkari has reached the round of 16 at tennis’ unofficial fifth major, after she reached the fourth round in 2018.

Meanwhile, two-time tournament winner Victoria Azarenka lost 6-3 6-4 to Elena Rybakina, Estonian fourth seed Anett Kontaveit was ousted by Czech Marketa Vondrousova 3-7 7-5 7-6 (7-5) and Veronika Kudermetova advanced when qualifier Marie Bouzkova retired early in the second set of their match.