Ons Jabeur took another step closer to sending her breakthrough season to new heights as she barnstormed her way into the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open for the first time.
The No.12 seed from Tunisia knocked out No.22 seed Danielle Collins of the United States 6-1, 6-3 in extremely windy conditions in Indian Wells. It took Jabeur just 1 hour and 13 minutes to dispatch the American, leveling their head-to-head at one win apiece.
Stat corner: In their previous meeting, Collins ended Jabeur's Roland Garros hopes last year, with the American grabbing a three-set upset win in the round of 16 on the clay courts of Paris.
But the World No.14 Jabeur exacted her revenge, converting five of her 12 break points to seal victory. Jabeur was particularly dynamic returning World No.25 Collins's second service. The Tunisian won 72 percent of those points.
Jabeur, who defeated three other Top 25 players during her run to the Chicago final last week, is potentially nearing toward one of the four remaining spots at the Akron WTA Finals in Guadalajara.
The Tunisian is currently No.9 in the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals and has now won a tour-leading 46 matches on the WTA this season. 2021 also saw her win a historic first WTA singles title at Birmingham.
Tale of the match: Collins put herself behind the 8-ball quickly, firing six double faults in the 10-minute opening game alone. Jabeur never looked back in the opener, taking it easily with a dropshot winner on set point.
After falling behind an early 0-2 break in the second set, Collins pulled herself into contention by powering back on serve at 2-1. But after a more competitive stretch, Jabeur reclaimed her break with outstanding groundstroke depth, edging ahead 5-3.
Serving for the match, Jabeur had to fend off a break point, but after evading that issue, the Tunisian held on for victory, with Collins sending a return wide on the first match point.
Words from Ons: "Holding my serve, I think it helped me get through the first set," Jabeur said in her post-match press conference. "The second set was a little bit tight. She started playing better. But I'm glad that I broke the last minute and was able to finish with my serve.
"With the fatigue mentally and physically at the end of the season, I'm trying to really play my best tennis. I never played this long. It's a new experience for me. But I'm happy that it's motivation for end of the year. I'm not very far. I honestly want to win as much as I can to qualify [for the WTA Finals]."
Next up: Jabeur will now face one of the tournament's surprise packages in the round of 16: Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya, ranked World No.151. It will be their first meeting.
Into the main draw as a lucky loser, Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia takes advantage of the windy conditions and breaks Karolina Pliskova’s serve 8 times to earn a 63 75 win.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 11, 2021
Best win of Haddad Maia’s career, 2nd Top 5 win overall.
Faces No.18 Kontaveit next. #BNPPO21 pic.twitter.com/57zMLEZJ4w
Haddad Maia earns second Top 10 win over top seed Pliskova
Lucky loser Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil notched the biggest upset of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday, ousting No.1 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5.
World No.115 Haddad Maia had lost to Usue Maitane Arconada in the final round of qualifying, but the Brazilian got a second chance after the withdrawal of No.29 seed Nadia Podoroska due to a thigh injury.
After inheriting Podoroska’s first-round bye and dispatching Mayar Sherif in the second round, Haddad Maia is into the round of 16 at a WTA 1000 event for the first time after her 2-hour and 4-minute win over World No.3 Pliskova.
Fast facts: The lone previous meeting between the two was not at all predictive of this result: Pliskova dismantled Haddad Maia 6-1, 6-1 when they met in the second round of the 2018 Australian Open.
On this blustery day in Indian Wells, though, Haddad Maia was the steadier player, earning the second Top 10 win of her career and her new career-best win by ranking. The Brazilian’s first Top 10 win came over then-World No.4 Sloane Stephens at Acapulco in 2019.
Key moments: Big-serving Pliskova, this season's ace leader thus far, struggled with her major weapon in the desert wind. Two double faults from game point up caused her to cede an early break at 2-1 in the opening frame.
At 3-2, Haddad Maia saved four break points to hold on to her serve and maintain her lead, and she eased to the one-set lead from there. Pliskova was undone with seven double faults in total in the first set.
The second set featured a staggering eight consecutive breaks of serve, culminating with Haddad Maia dropping her service while serving for the match at 5-3. But at 6-5, Haddad Maia fired a return winner to queue up her second match point of that game, which she converted after a wild miscue by Pliskova.
Words from Haddad Maia: "I'm very happy with my win and my work today. It was very tough conditions for both of us. It was very windy. I didn't serve that well but I was returning well. I was doing my best.
"I think the key was my resilience in my mental game. Now I'm proud of myself, of my work, and I'm going to prepare and get ready for tomorrow against Kontaveit. I think I didn't play her in the pro tour. It's going to be a nice game. She's a good player and I will do my best and I'll keep doing what I'm doing, try to be aggressive and prepare for tomorrow. Let's work hard tomorrow and create opportunities during the match."
Next up: Haddad Maia will try her luck again against another seed, No.18 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. Kontaveit knocked out defending champion and No.16 seed Bianca Andreescu earlier on Monday.
Tomljanovic topples Zidansek
In a clash between two players who had career-best Grand Slam results this season, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated No.26 seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 6-4, 6-3.
A Wimbledon quarterfinalist this year, World No.47 Tomljanovic had never made it past the second round in her six previous main-draw showings in Indian Wells. The Aussie's 96-minute victory over 2021 Roland Garros semifinalist Zidansek puts her into the round of 16 in the desert for the first time.
The match started inauspiciously for Tomljanovic, who fell behind 4-0. However, the Australian won nine games in a row from there to take a commanding 6-4, 3-0 lead. Zidansek eased back to 3-3 in the second set, but Tomljanovic swept home from there, improving to 5-2 against Zidansek.
No.10 seed Angelique Kerber will be Tomljanovic's round of 16 opponent on Tuesday. Former World No.1 Kerber has defeated Tomljanovic in straight sets both times they have met, at 2015 Roland Garros and the 2020 US Open.