Victoria Azarenka, a two-time winner of the BNP Paribas Open, was knocked out of the Indian Wells, Calif., event in the third round on Monday.
Seventeenth-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan defeated 13th-ranked Azarenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-4.
Azarenka was the champion in the Southern California desert in 2012 and 2016, and she reached the final last year, when she fell to Spain’s Paula Badosa 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (2).
On Monday, Rybakina staved off the only break point she faced and won an impressive 17 of 26 second-serve points.
“I was focusing a lot of on my serve, of course,” Rybakina said postmatch. “I served big and it’s my weapon, and today it worked out really well for me. She’s a great champion, and I was just happy to play against her today.”
Rybakina’s round-of-16 foe will be 31st-seeded Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, who pulled out a 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (4) victory over Italy’s Jasmine Paolini.
Rybakina said of opposing Golubic, “For sure, tough match. I have to focus on my serve because it’s really a big weapon for me. Be physically ready, be patient. Here, the conditions are slow. Rallies might be longer than you expect, so just be patient and try to fight and focus for every point.”
In another match that came down to a third-set tiebreaker, 30th-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic rallied past Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5).
The final set began with five consecutive service breaks, and Vondrousova eventually pulled even at 4-4 with another break. Vondrousova jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the decisive tiebreaker before sealing the victory on her fourth match point.
Her next opponent will be 21st-seeded Veronika Kudermetova. The Russian advanced when the Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova retired because of a right ankle injury while ahead 2-0 in the second set after losing the first set 6-4.
Sixth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece downed 27th-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0 to earn a matchup with Australia’s Daria Saville, who beat 20th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
“It’s never easy against Petra,” Sakkari said of her win. “One of the great champions of the game, a very good friend of mine. I have a lot of respect for her and admire her for what she has achieved. A lot of people would be jealous of her career.”
In an all-Spanish match, fifth-seeded Badosa beat 32nd-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-6 (4), 6-1. Badosa’s next foe will be 18th-seeded Canadian Leylah Fernandez or the United States’ Shelby Rogers, as the latter two met Monday night.
–Field Level Media