Angelique Kerber edged Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 on Monday to reach the fourth round at the BNP Paribas Open for the sixth time.
Two one-sided sets for each player gave way to a tense decider. The pair traded breaks twice across the first four games, before Kerber earned the decisive break at 3-3 — but needed five break points after leading 0-40 to do it. She served out victory from 15-40 down, sealing the win in 1 hour and 47 minutes.
Revolution No. 9: The ninth career meeting between Kasatkina and Kerber represented a match between the last two runner-ups at Indian Wells. Kerber was runner-up to Bianca Andreescu in 2019, while Kasatkina was beaten by Osaka in 2018. Their previous head-to-head was all square at 4-4. Kasatkina had won the past two matches between the two on hard courts, which included a 6-0, 6-2 victory in the quarterfinals in the aforementioned breakthrough.
"It's always tough to play against Daria," Kerber said after the match. "We've played so many matches in the past ... and today was a bit of a rollercoaster match for me. I played very well in the first set and she played well in the second, so I was just trying to stay mentally strong and to play point by point.
"At the end it was just one or two points that decided the match and I'm happy to be through. I'm feeling good. I'm just trying to get through as far as I can, playing good tennis again."
Up next: Kerber will next face the winner of the match between No.26 seed Tamara Zidansek and Ajla Tomljanovic in the fourth round. She's never faced the Slovenian and is 2-0 against the Aussie all time, but says she'll be focused on what's been the key to her resurgent season so far.
"It doesn't matter against who I'm playing," Kerber said. "It's more about how I feel, that I'm ready for every point, that I play my game like in the last few months and few weeks, so this is more my goal."
Kontaveit ends Andreescu's reign
Bianca Andreescu's two-year reign as BNP Paribas Open champion came to an end at the hands of Anett Kontaveit, 7-6(5), 6-3. For the second time this year, the Estonian got the better of the Canadian in straight sets. She beat Andreescu in her in the second round in Eastbourne and extended her head-to-head advantage over Andreescu to 3-0.
"It was extremely close throughout the match and I was just trying to stay tough. I was ready for a tough match," Kontaveit said. "She's such a good player, such a great competitor, so I knew it wasn't going to be over until it was really over."
After falling an early break down in the opener, Kontaveit won four straight games to take the lead, but ultimately needed five set points to take a one-set lead. Andreescu erased three set points on Kontaveit's serve at 5-4 before breaking, and Kontaveit won four of the last five points of the tiebreak. She also won five straight games from 3-1 down to seal the match in straight sets.
Kontaveit cruises on in California 😎— wta (@WTA) October 11, 2021
The No.18 seed overcomes defending champ Andreescu to advance to the fourth round.
The Estonian, who owns two hard-court titles this season, is on an 8-match win streak 👀 #BNPPO21 pic.twitter.com/qb7embJmiq
Kontaveit extends autumn surge: After beginning a new coaching collaboration with former ATP player Dmitry Tursunov in August, Kontaveit has now won 15 of her past 16 matches, capturing two titles over that span in Cleveland and Ostrava.
"I've really been enjoying being out here, really enjoying playing competitive matches and I've been having a lot of fun," Kontaveit said. "I think that's been the key, and of course, Dmitry has helped a lot, too."
Up next, she'll face Brazilian lucky loser Beatriz Haddad Maia, who became the first women from her country to defeat a player ranked in the WTA Top 3 with a straight-sets victory over top seed and World No.3 Karolina Pliskova.
Qualifier Kalinskaya continues breakthrough run
She hadn't beaten a Top 50 player all year, but Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya picked up her second straight win against a player in that ranking range against Viktorija Golubic, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3, to reach the fourth round.
The win is Kalinskaya's fifth of the tournament so far after two wins in qualifying, and reversed the result of the pair's last meeting at the Abierto GNP Seguros in March.
A trio of three-setters: After straight-set victories over Asia Muhammad and Priscilla Hon in qualifying, the World No.151 had beaten Claire Liu and No.28 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo in a final set prior to Golubic.
She moves on to face the winner of the match between No.12 seed Ons Jabeur and No.22 seed Danielle Collins for a spot in the quarterfinals. Kalinskaya will bid for her fourth tour-level quarterfinal and second this year as a qualifier, having matched that feat in Monterrey.
Stat of the match: After losing six straight games in the opening set, Kalinskaya had a near-perfect performance against Golubic's serve. Across sets two and three, she broke the Swiss seven times in her eight service games.