Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino outdid Roberta Vinci on Sunday for her first Top 20 win. The road only gets tougher, though, as next up for the Spaniard will be World No.3 Maria Sharapova.
WTA Staff

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Spanish rising star Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino pulled off a career-first at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, outlasting Roberta Vinci in three sets for her first Top 20 win.

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Though she had taken out No.22 seed Varvara Lepchenko in the previous round, Arruabarrena-Vecino's run seemed to be coming to a close as the No.14-seeded Vinci cruised through the opening set in just 27 minutes; but Arruabarrena-Vecino stayed even with her through 4-all in each of the next two sets and pulled away just enough each time, eventually emerging with a 26 64 64 victory.

Arruabarrena-Vecino was 0-4 against Top 20 players going into the match, all four losses in straight sets and barely winning any games either - she won a total of 11 games in four matches against Svetlana Kuznetsova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic and Angelique Kerber. That all changed.

The road only gets tougher, though - next up for Arruabarrena-Vecino is No.2 seed Maria Sharapova, who beat another Spaniard, No.25 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, 75 63. Suárez Navarro was up in both sets - 5-4 first set, 3-2 second set - but both times Sharapova shifted to another gear to close it out.

"I thought it was a tough one - she's a quality player, capable of playing some really good tennis," Sharapova said of the Spaniard. "She's dangerous. She's beaten top players in Grand Slams before and has a really solid game with a lot of variety, and she can hit the ball as well. She's really tough.

"There are a few things I want to improve on, but I was happy I got through on not a great day."

Sharapova talked about Suárez Navarro's classy one-handed backhand. "Players are able to open the court up a little more with the angles, and they use the slice a lot more when they're a one-hander," she said. "I think it's about having someone hit you a few more slices than usual in practice, because most one-handers usually have a pretty good slice. And against me those players do like to use that."

Sharapova and Arruabarrena-Vecino will be playing against each other for the first time.

"I don't know too much about her - I hope my coach was out there watching the end of that one," Sharapova said about her next opponent. "She's played a lot of matches, and I've kind of played a bit of a similar style to her in this tournament so far, but I'm sure I will find a couple of videos to look at and to get a good look at her myself. Sometimes you don't always believe what the coach says!"

For the 20-year-old Arruabarrena-Vecino, this will be one of her biggest matches - Sharapova was asked about her first big match on a big stadium, and that actually came right here at Indian Wells.

"This was the first big stadium I was on," Sharapova said. "Indian Wells was the first big professional event I was a part of. I think it was Samantha Reeves who I played against in the first round, and I think I beat her, and that set up the match to play Monica. It was a big deal because I was 15 or so.

"You don't know what to expect. I think actually the first round I did play on center court against Samantha, and I was able to win that one - and I certainly had no chance at all in the next one."

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