Kerber Does It Again, Maria Vs Maria In QFs

Angelique Kerber pulled another comeback out of her hat and now faces Li Na in the quarters.

Published March 13, 2012 12:00

Kerber Does It Again, Maria Vs Maria In QFs
Angelique Kerber

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Maybe it's just coincidence, or maybe it's a testament to her determination each and every time she takes the court, but for the second straight match Angelique Kerber rallied from match point down to beat an American teenager, and now she's in the Indian Wells quarterfinals.

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In her last match, the No.18-seeded Kerber pulled off one of the most unlikely comebacks in recent memory on the WTA, rallying from 62 51 down and double match point to beat 18-year-old Sloane Stephens in a heartbreaker, 26 75 64.

On Tuesday her opponent was No.32 seed Christina McHale, conqueror of No.3 seed Petra Kvitova the round before. After the two split sets, McHale seemed headed for her second straight upset as she built a 4-1 lead in the third; Kerber closed in but McHale inched ahead again, holding three match points at 6-5 - but Kerber survived them all, eventually stealing the win, 63 36 76(4).

"Christina is a great player. It was very tough," Kerber said. "I was trying to play my game, focus and just keep fighting for every point. I'm very happy to be in the quarterfinals - I think I'll have a little bit more confidence now after winning a match like this. Tomorrow I'll try to play my game and have fun as well."

Kerber now has 18 wins this season, trailing only Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska, who both have 20 - those two play each other next.

Next for Kerber is No.8 seed Li Na, who had a personal breakthrough against a fellow veteran - having lost both previous meetings with Klara Zakopalova, she completely dominated the talented Czech this time in just 56 minutes, 61 60.

"I was happy what I did on the court today because last time I played against her I lost easily, like 1 and 2," Li said. "The way she hits the ball, so flat and so deep, I don't really like playing against it. I don't know what happened today - sometimes her shots just fly everywhere... but I'm happy to win this time."

Li has won all three previous meetings with Kerber, including the last two quite handily - but Kerber was not the same player in those meetings, all of them coming in 2010 when she wasn't even in the Top 50 (she is No.19 now).

Also meeting in the quarterfinals will be good friends and fellow Marias, Maria Sharapova and Maria Kirilenko. The No.2-seeded Sharapova cruised past No.21 seed Roberta Vinci, 62 61, winning 10 straight games at one point; No.20 seed Kirilenko beat No.30 seed Nadia Petrova in a bizarre match, 61 57 62, originally leading 61 51 but losing seven straight games, then regrouping.

"I thought my game was awesome until 61 51, but then Nadia started playing very well," Kirilenko said. "I wasn't making any mistakes - she was playing very aggressively and running well too, and I was very surprised. But I made sure to stay focused and not get upset, and just start fighting again in the third set."

Sharapova and Kirilenko go way, way back. "We met for the first time a long time ago, in the junior days, probably under 12s or under 14s," Sharapova said. "I don't think we played each other that tournament, I don't really know what we were doing, we were just running around freely like little girls out of control. I don't know what you really do at that age. But we were enjoying ourselves!

"We became friends pretty quickly. I don't know how it came about, if somebody introduced us, but we kind of hit it off. We were the same age too."

Sharapova and Kirilenko are tied in their head-to-head series, 2-2.

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