Upsets rule 4th round at Indian Wells; Swiatek, Murray out

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Upsets dominated the fourth round at the BNP Paribas Open, with three top-five seeds getting dismissed in straight sets. Andy Murray and U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez were knocked out, too.

No. 2 Iga Swiatek, the highest remaining women’s seed, lost to No. 24 Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 6-3. Ostapenko rallied from a break down in both sets on a day when the weather calmed down from the rain and wind that affected some of Monday’s matches.

Top-seeded Karolina Pliskova was upset a day earlier, when she lost to Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 7-5.

American Jessica Pegula routed No. 5 Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time at Indian Wells. Pegula connected on 70% of her serves and won 22 of 26 first-serve points in the 68-minute match. She didn’t face a break point.

“Really solid win. Didn’t make a lot of errors and was still aggressive. Played the big points well,” Pegula said. “I’ve just been really mentally tough this week. I’ve been fighting for every single point.”

Fernandez had five double faults in losing to Shelby Rogers 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4). Rogers stunned world No. 1 Ash Barty in the third round at last month’s Open before falling to eventual champion Emma Raducanu in the fourth round.

“It was an incredible battle,” Rogers said. “We both played really well at times and it was a sort of tug-of-war kind of match and one that’s really fun to play. The crowd was into it on both sides.”

Former top-ranked Victoria Azarenka ended the run of Aliaksandra Sanovich 6-3 6-4. Sanovich had defeated major winners Raducanu and Simona Halep in back-to-back matches to reach the fourth round.

On the men’s side, American Taylor Fritz beat No. 5 Matteo Berretini 6-4, 6-3. Karen Khachanov defeated No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta 6-0, 6-4.

No. 3 Alexander Zverev and No. 6 Casper Ruud survived the onslaught of upsets.

Zverev defeated Murray 6-4, 7-6 (4), with each man firing eight aces. Ruud outlasted Lloyd Harris 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4.

A frustrated Murray tossed his racket at the end of the tiebreaker. He was seeking his first win over a Top-5 player since 2016. But Zverev, the gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, had won 18 of his last 19 matches.

“There was no sort of consistency,” Murray said. “It was either good or bad.”

Murray received a wild-card into the event as he continues on the comeback trail. He had hip surgery in 2018 and injured his groin in March.

Fritz earned his seventh career win against a Top-10 player, winning not far from where he grew up in the Los Angeles area.

“I’ve been looking for some better results in these big events for a bit. I’ve let more than a couple slip away from me,” Fritz said. “I’m pretty comfortable here. I feel if anything more confident here because it’s close to home and the crowd is always great for me here.”

Jannick Sinner advanced via walkover against American John Isner.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.