Daria Saville’s giant-killing run in Indian Wells has continued with victory over Elise Mertens propelling her into the round of 16 of the WTA 1000 event for the first time.
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.
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Starting the tournament ranked 409th, Saville will soar up the rankings regardless of the outcome of her meeting with world no.6 Maria Sakkari.
Russia-born Australian Saville won her only previous meeting with Sakkari at a Challenger event in San Antonio, Texas, in 2016.
Greece’s Sakkari fired off five aces to make 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.
Two-times Wimbledon winner Kvitova ceded break point in the eighth game of the first set and never regained her composure, as Sakkari fended off two breaks to close out the frame and ran away with the match in the second set.
“Once I broke her, I just felt like that’s was the right way to return her serve and I was just very solid from the back of the court,” Sakkari said.
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.