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Emma Navarro upsets Sabalenka in Indian Wells Masters

Emma Navarro upsets Sabalenka in Indian Wells Masters

Emma Navarro stunned world number two Aryna Sabalenka to record the biggest win of her career on Wednesday. The American beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 3-6 6-2 to reach the Indian Wells quarter-finals for the first time. Meanwhile Coco Gauff celebrated her birthday by advancing effortlessly.

Navarro soaked up powerful serves of Sabalenka enroute to converting four of her five break-point opportunities. She beat the current two-time Australian Open champion in windy conditions.

Navarro started strongly, securing the first set, but Sabalenka raised her game in the second, pushing for a decider. Navarro, being the calm and composed as she is kept her cool. She fended off a breakpoint and delivered a forehand winner for a crucial service hold, securing a 4-1 lead.

Seeded 23rd, Navarro broke the powerful Sabalenka for the fourth time on match point. She sealed the victory in setting up a quarter-final encounter with the ninth seed, Maria Sakkari of Greece.

The runner-up of 2022, Sakkari beat Diane Parry, the Frenchwoman 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Emma Navarro, known for her her composed demeanor, performed a suppressed fist pump having won the match in front of a supportive crowd at Stadium One.

It’s a little bit unnatural for me to be in the spotlight and be playing on a court like that with a ton of fans and TVs and eyes on me. It’s not my natural way,” she told reporters.

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Navarro Reflects on Growth and Comfort in the Spotlight

But I feel I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it and just feeling like I can be myself even if there’s however many people watching.”

Also I think that was my second or third fist pump ever. If it was a little weird, cut me some slack,” she said with a smile.

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Navarro will break into the top 20 with the help of this win for the first time after the tournament. Sabalenka herself had won her second Grand Slam crown in Melbourne Park in January, appreciated her opponent.

Her potential is really great,” Sabalenka told reporters. “I think she has the potential to be in the top 10.”

In 2019, Navarro made her WTA main-draw debut and became the No.1 college recruit a year later. Opting to enroll at the University of Virginia, she took home the NCAA title in her very first year.

In 2022, Emma turned pro and after a season of continuous play during the previous year, she secured a season-ending finish at No.38 and a Top 100 debut.

The momentum persisted in January as she secured her first WTA title in Hobart and achieved her best performance at a Grand Slam with a third-round appearance in Melbourne.

There’s been a lot of slow and methodical progressions to my game,” Navarro said. “It’s like if a grandparent sees their kid once a year, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’ve gotten so big,’ but the kid doesn’t feel that much bigger than last time. That’s a little bit how I feel.”

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