Three former world No.1s and at the same time three former champions at the BNP Paribas Open – Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic – won their third round matches at the tournament, while the highest seed to fall on the day was No.6 Samantha Stosur.
The second-seeded Sharapova defeated Simona Halep 6-3 6-4, but only after the Romanian took four games in a row from 3-6 0-5 and saved four match points.
Ivanovic, seeded 15th, had a 5-3 lead in the first set against Ksenia Pervak and later had a set point in the tiebreak, but still she lost the set. However, the 2008 Indian Wells champion did manage to grind out a 6-7(8) 6-3 6-2 win in close to three hours.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, fourth seed this year, did not have an initial lead, on the contrary, the score was against her 3-6 4-5 when she won six straight games to get back and manage to beat Sofia Arvidsson 3-6 7-5 6-2. Wozniacki will now meet Ivanovic in the fourth round, and Ivanovic will be able to avenge her recent Dubai loss to the Dane.
Sixth seed Samantha Stosur fell at the hands of Nadia Petrova, whom she had defeated at the 2011 US Open in the longest women’s match ever at the tournament, but this time it was the Russian’s day, and after two hours and 47 minutes Petrova came out on top, 6-1 6-7(6) 7-6(5). The dominant first set Petrova finished with three straight aces. (sources: WTA Tour, Women Who Serve, photo: Johan Rivera, follow him on Twitter @HobbiesPlus)
Ana’s “managing to grind out a … win” could actually prove to be a milestone in her uphill struggle of the past few years, because the last time she won a three-sets-match was in February of 2011 (and then against Jill Craybas), losing the next eight three-setters – even when 5:1 up in the third set (vs. Clijsters, whom she, all-in-all, actually outplayed – remember?). What’s more, this time she did it after losing the first marathon set in the tie-break, 8-10, – a situation which puts any, even the most self-confident, player at a huge psychological disadvantage! That part of the “grinding” was mutual and Ana lost it – only to psychologically recover fully enough to assert her true game – which is not really grinding, rather pure demolition (in this case, of an able, hungry, upcoming, and therefore very dangerous opponent). Well, even after this, she still may falter, now and then, but I do believe this was a sign of things to come – and there’s hardly anything better that could happen to women’s tennis than Ana back in the top 10 … at least.