INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - No.13 seed Misaki Doi continued to kickstart her season at the Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells, coming from a set and 1-4 down to outlast No.3 seed Bernarda Pera 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 59 minutes to reach the quarterfinals.
The Japanese player had come into the tournament with just a 1-6 win-loss record in 2020, but displayed real grit to turn the third-round contest around after getting overpowered for a set-and-a-half - sealing a result that extends her winning streak at WTA 125K level to seven, after winning the Bastad title last July.
A swashbuckling drive volley from the former World No.30, saving a point for Pera to move up a 5-2 double break in the second set, would be the springboard for Doi's comeback, and the start of a seven-game run in which her left-handed forehand made its mark with accurate placement both down the line and angled sharply crosscourt. A brilliant lobbed volley on the run was a particular highlight as Doi closed in on the second set, taken with a slice of luck on a dead net cord.
A rattled Pera lapsed into error in response, with a double fault and one of an array of errant forehands conceding the immediate third-set break - but the American threatened a comeback of her own after nailing a spectacular pass en route to cutting Doi's lead to 4-2. A nervy passage of play ensued as the match reached its dénouement, with four consecutive breaks of serve; however, Doi would manage to keep her nose in front, serving out the win at the second time of asking by nailing a smash on her first match point.
Elsewhere, former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva's comeback from a left wrist injury that had sidelined her from May 2019 to February this year continued to gather steam as the Russian collected her third Top 100 scalp since returning, overhauling a break deficit in the final set to upset No.1 seed Katerina Siniakova 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes.
After splitting sets, the 35-year-old would turn the decider around from 1-3 down by winning three consecutive marathon tussles - breaking the Czech back after four deuces, levelling at 3-3 after three deuces, saving one break point en route, and then moving up a break for 4-3 after two deuces. This lead would prove decisive as two-time Grand Slam runner-up Zvonareva served the match out to 15, setting up a quarterfinal clash against No.5 seed Laura Siegemund. The German, who moved past former World No.32 Kurumi Nara 6-2, 6-2, is the highest seed remaining in the draw.
Back in July 2018, a 17-year-old Olga Danilovic stunned the tennis world when she became the first player born this millennium to win a WTA title - on her Tour debut as a lucky loser, no less, at the Moscow River Cup. The Serb would be unable to consolidate her position in the Top 100, though, sinking to World No.277 the following August, but since then has been gradually working her way back into the conversation. Still only 19 years old, Danilovic's re-emergence took another step forwards with a 6-4, 7-5 upset of No.8 seed Zhu Lin - her first Top 100 victory since that magical Moscow run, and seventh overall.
Last month, former Top 30 players Irina-Camelia Begu and Lesia Tsurenko contested the Cairo ITF W100 final, with Begu winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Both continued to prove the value of dropping down below WTA level to regain form as they sustained their momentum to book quarterfinal berths today: Romania's Begu backed up her upset of No.4 seed Taylor Townsend in the second round to dispatch No.14 seed Kristie Ahn 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 40 minutes, while Ukrainian Tsurenko posted an identical scoreline but took 29 fewer minutes to swing past Katie Boulter.
Tsurenko will now face Danilovic in the last eight, while Begu will seek to upset a third consecutive American seed as she takes on No.9 seed Jessica Pegula. The Auckland finalist triumphed in an all-American derby 7-6(4), 6-2 over 2016 Roland Garros quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers - a result that ensured a BNP Paribas Open wildcard next week for 21-year-old World No.134 Usue Maitane Arconada. The Oracle Challenger Series offers wildcards for the Premier Mandatory event to the two Americans with the highest points total across its four tournaments, and Arconada - runner-up in New Haven to Anna Blinkova last September - joins Newport Beach champion Madison Brengle at the top of the leaderboard.
Meanwhile, 2009 US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer rounded out the quarterfinal lineup with a 6-1, 7-6(6) defeat of Barbara Haas, and will play Doi for a place in the final four.