World No.2 and race leader Aryna Sabalenka played over two hours to defeat Barbora Krejcikova 6-3 2-6 6-4 and earn her spot in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.
This was only the Belarusian’s second match at the tournament, having received a walkover in the fourth round when Lesia Tsurenko pulled out. Asked by media if any part of her was happy that the match went long so she could get used to the conditions better, Sabalenka laughed and said, “I would prefer to win this match in two sets, to be honest. It’s good that I was on the court a little bit longer probably. I felt the court a little bit better, I hope so.”
In the quarterfinal, the second-seeded Sabalenka will face sixth seed Coco Gauff, who has won three of their four encounters so far. Previewing the match, she told media, “We always had tough matches, great battles, she’s a great player. I’m going to do my best to do good recovery, make sure that I prepare myself as good as I can for that match, because it’s going to be a great battle.”
Gauff defeated qualifier Rebecca Peterson 6-3 1-6 6-4 to advance. Despite the disappointing second set, the American was in good spirits when she met with media after the match. The teenager explained, “Mentally I hung in there when I needed to. Playing-wise, obviously, there are a lot of things I can improve on for the next match, but considering the circumstances, I’m happy to be done with today.”
The highly variable conditions have been difficult for Gauff to adjust to with the schedule she’s had here. She told media, “My first round I played night, then the second round I played day where the ball was super jumpy. Yesterday doubles day was jumpy. Then today, I was expecting day, jumpy, but when I woke up, I was like, okay, it’s really cloudy, thought it would clear up by time I play, but no. It was super slow today.”
Gauff celebrated her nineteenth birthday Monday and was pleased to have her mother fly to California to celebrate together. The WTA star told media: “I think she knows me probably better than anyone. She always has such a positive attitude.” Gauff laughed and added, “She keeps my dad calm too in the box. I don’t think he would have gotten through today if she wasn’t sitting next to him.” A positive attitude will certainly be needed when she faces Sabalenka in the next round.