Sabalenka advances in Indian Wells, Sakkari overcomes match that had her “scared”

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The second round at Indian Wells got underway Friday with fan favorites advancing through unusual weather. Clouds dominated the sky all day, keeping the courts uncharacteristically cool and causing rain delays early in the evening.

Sakkari defeats Rogers 2-6 6-4 6-0

Following her 2-6 6-4 6-0 victory over Shelby Rogers, Maria Sakkari, the star of the Indian Wells episode of Break Point, opened up about the mental impact of playing someone who has beaten her in all three previous encounters: “I was scared of that match, because up until you beat someone, then you just feel like, what am I doing wrong and I cannot get a win over them.”

In the first set, Rogers came out swinging and forced the Greek into uncomfortable shots. A rain delay, uncommon at the desert tournament, gave Sakkari a chance to gather herself. She later told press, “I think that it was a good thing for me that we actually stopped. I had a little bit of time to reset and just think through a couple of things. I feel like I was very disappointed with my level up until we stopped with the rain, and played myself into the match in the second set.”

In the third set, Rogers appeared to struggle with a leg injury that left her visibly in pain. Sakkari had to focus on herself at the critical moment to break her losing streak. While the American was hurting, Sakkari had to push all thoughts aside and focus on herself. She told media, “It’s never nice for anyone in this world to get injured, but when you’re inside the tennis court and they are still playing, then you just have to think of how you’re going to win the match.”

In the third round, Sakkari faces Anhelina Kalinina, who beat her last year in Eastbourne.

Sabalenka defeats Rodina 6-2 6-0

Aryna Sabalenka defeated Evgeniya Rodina in a match that barely lasted over an hour. Despite the convincing score line, the Belarusian did not want to downplay her opponent’s strong performance. Sabalenka told media, “It was tricky game, I would say. I didn’t expect her play that slow. I was struggling a little bit with adjusting for the balls, because it was super slow.” She walked away with the victory and a good attitude, adding, “I’m just super happy with the performance and a bit of support.” That support she referred to is the many fans she has here in Indian Wells.

Asked what she thinks draws such a crowd to her matches, the second seed laughed and said, “I think they like to see my powerful game. I don’t know. Probably that’s why. Probably they just like me because I’m a nice person. I don’t know. I hope both.” Whatever it is, the crowds respond with love and cheers.

In the third round, Sabalenka will face Lesia Tsurenko, whom she last played in an Indian Wells third round match in 2019, which she won 6-2 7-5.

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