Holder Badosa defeats Fernandez and Halep in Indian Wells

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March 15 (Reuters) – Seeking to become the first woman to defend the Indian Wells title in more than three decades, Paula Badosa edged past Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals on Tuesday while Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek also advanced.

Badosa, looking to emulate Martina Navratilova’s feat of retaining the crown in 1990-91, converted three of her 12 break point chances and the Spaniard kept her cool in key moments of the tight competition to win.

The Sydney champ hasn’t dropped a set at the WTA 1000 tournament in the Southern California desert as she seeks only the fourth title of her career. Badosa will next face either Veronika Kudermetova or Marketa Vondrousova.

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Badosa drew first blood in the opening set when she broke for a 4-3 lead and although US Open runner-up Fernandez fought back with a break, the Spaniard raised her level for take advantage at the start of the contest.

After a slow start to the second set, she held serve in a five-point game to go up 5-3 before wrapping up the victory.

Halep dispatched fellow Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-1 6-4 as the former world number one, who won the tournament seven years ago, sailed through the first set with help from her error-prone opponent.

Cirstea took a 2-0 lead to start the second but the two-time major champion fought back, sealing victory when the world No. 27 sent a backhand match point.

A beaming Halep gave the TV cameras a kiss, raised her fist and enthusiastically waved to the crowd at Stadium One after winning the Romanian derby. Halep is now 19-0 in games against her compatriots.

“It’s difficult to play against a Romanian player, it’s a bit stressful,” Halep told Tennis Channel.

“But I go to the court and I just think about myself, I don’t care who I have to play. I have a plan I have to make, and today was a pretty solid win. I felt good. on the court.”

Halep will have her hands full in the quarters when she takes on Petra Martic after the Czech beat Ludmilla Samsonova 7-6(6) 6-4.

World No. 79 Martic was hot in the desert, knocking out 19th seed Tamara Zidansek in the second round before defeating US Open champion Emma Raducanu on Sunday.

Martic said short memory has been key to his recent streak of success.

“I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so that doesn’t always help,” she told reporters. “I try not to judge myself for my mistakes…I just try to compete and fight until the end.”

Poland’s Swiatek picked up her third consecutive victory to beat former world number one Angelique Kerber 4-6 6-2 6-3 and reach the last eight.

Kerber broke early in the third for a 3-1 lead, but third seed Swiatek came level at 3-3 and continued.

The 20-year-old will face Madison Keys on Wednesday after the big-serving American dispatched British qualifier Harriet Dart with a 6-1 6-4 victory.

Greece’s Maria Sakkari also went through this when her opponent Daria Gavrilova retired when she was leading 4-1 with an adductor problem.

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Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis and Simon Cameron-Moore

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