Gauff wins on 20th birthday after Sabalenka stunned at Indian Wells

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Gauff wins on 20th birthday after Sabalenka stunned at Indian Wells

Coco Gauff breezed past Elise Mertens in straight sets to win on her 20th birthday at Indian Wells while Aryna Sabalenka was surprisingly knocked out.

Gauff dropped just two games as she raced to a 6-0 6-2 win over Mertens as she made the last eight for a second consecutive year.

She was on course to meet Sabalenka in the semi-finals in a repeat of the Australian Open final, but the world No 2 was stunned by Emma Navarro.

Sabalenka was far from her best as Navarro won 6-3 3-6 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of a WTA 1000 event for the first time in her career.

The opening six games of the match were tight with neither player getting a break point chance until Navarro made the breakthrough to go 5-3 up after a string of errors from Sabalenka.

Navarro held serve but the momentum shifted when Sabalenka broke early in the second and found her rhythm to send the match into a decider.

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Aryna Sabalenka won the second set with back-to-back aces over Emma Navarro.

Both players shared breaks before Navarro went 3-1 up by breaking for a second time in the set to the frustration of Sabalenka, who let out a big roar.

This time, Navarro didn’t let the advantage slip as the 22-year-old American took one of the biggest wins of her career.

“It’s never easy coming out and playing an opponent like that, so experienced and so talented. She made it really tough on me but I was able to play some good tennis in the right moments,” said Navarro, who will play Maria Sakkari or Diane Parry in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

“I stayed aggressive on returns and played some better service games in the third set, so put some pressure on her throughout and I think that made the difference.”

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Emma Navarro and Aryna Sabalenka produce a striking rally in their thrilling tussle at Indian Wells.

Gauff: My best match of the tournament so far

It was one-way traffic for Gauff as she completed a rare bagel at this stage of a WTA 1000 tournament over Mertens in a 24-minute opening set.

Mertens just struggled in all areas and moved poorly but managed to hold one service game and get one break early in the second.

From 2-2 in set two though, it was all about Gauff again as she raised her game and dominated the baseline rallies to win four games in a row to close out the match and book a place in the last eight against Daria Kasatkina or Yuan Yue

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Coco Gauff won a stunning rally against Elise Mertens in the first set.

“I played really well. I feel really good. My best match of the tournament so far and I’m so happy to win on my birthday,” Gauff told Sky Sports Tennis.

“I feel like I’m close to my best level and when I’m playing like that it’s hard to beat me.”

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