Angelique Kerber ends Elena Vesnina's title defence in Indian Wells to reach fourth round

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Roaring through: Angelique Kerber (Credit: Twitter/@bnpparibasopen)

INDIAN WELLS — Angelique Kerber avenged her defeat to Elena Vesnina here last year by ending the Russian’s title defence with a straight-sets win on Monday to reach the BNP Paribas Open fourth round.

The 10th-seeded Kerber, who had lost her last two meetings to Vesnina, saved 9/13 break points in the one-hour 39-minute battle in hot conditions in the California desert to set up a last-16 clash against French No. 7 seed Caroline Garcia with a 7-5, 6-2.

“I think the match was a really high level from the both of us. The first set was extremely important. The second set was really close, it was 6-2 but every game was really close and every single point was really a fight. It’s a great feeling to win another match here at Indian Wells,” said the two-time Grand Slam champion.

The German lefty now owns a joint tour-leading 17 victories in 2018 (same as Caroline Wozniacki).

Vesnina went down an early break but struck back and inched ahead to lead 5-4 and serve for the set. The Russian couldn’t close it though as Kerber drew level.

Kerber needed a lengthy game to hold for 6-5 then went up 0-40 on Vesnina’s serve in game 12. The No. 24 seed saved all three set points though.

A netted volley saw Vesnina face a fourth set point and a deep, high return from Kerber gave the German the advantage.

Vesnina kept getting opportunities to break but Kerber swatted them away as she leapt to a 5-1 lead in the second set.

Serving for the match, Kerber fell behind 0-40 and Vesnina broke to stay alive in the clash. But that only delayed the inevitable as Kerber wrapped up the win in the next game, wearing down Vesnina in a long exchange to advance to the fourth round.

Kerber’s best results in Indian Wells came in 2012 and 2013 when she reached the semi-finals. The last left-hander win the BNP Paribas Open was Monica Seles in 1992, and last German to triumph here was Steffi Graf in 1996.

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She’s been playing the best tennis of her career in the past six months and managed to crack the top-10 for the first time last month.

Julia Goerges is known to be one of the nicest players on tour and was happy to share some details about her life when we caught up with her at Indian Wells this week.

The 29-year-old takes on Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in the BNP Paribas Open third round on Monday.


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Juan Martin del Potro: Football needs to see Lionel Messi with the World Cup trophy

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Juan Martin del Potro believes his countryman Lionel Messi is doing everything he can for the Argentinean national team and that the world of football “needs” too see him with the World Cup trophy.

The World Cup is a competition that has remained elusive for Messi, who is arguably the most talented footballer on the planet and has scooped up countless trophies on the club level with Barcelona.

“I think Argentina and everybody wants to see Messi with the World Cup, no?” Del Potro said on Sunday following his straight-sets win over Alex de Minaur in the Indian Wells second round.

“The soccer world needs Messi with that trophy. And, in my country, we have very high expectation in Russia. And I know the players feels that pressure, because I felt it when I was playing Davis Cup. It was similar.

“But Lio is a great guy and he deserves to win, but he’s doing more than he can for our country, and I’m very proud to have Messi with the Argentinian flags around the world, and hopefully Argentina can win the World Cup.”

La Albiceleste have not won the World Cup since 1986, and were runners-up in the most recent edition, losing the final to Germany in Brazil in 2014.

Argentina struggled during the qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 but have made it and headline Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.

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