INDIAN WELLS, California // Former champion Maria Sharapova raised her game when it mattered to storm into the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino.
Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, also cruised into the last eight, pounding Poland's Urszula Radwanska 6-3, 6-1 in a match lasting just under 90 minutes despite being hampered by a sore ankle.
Fifth seed Petra Kvitova advanced with a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 win over fellow Czech Klara Zakopalova but third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland was knocked out, losing 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 to 13th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko.
Russian world No 3 Sharapova won a tight opening set then swept through the second in only 22 minutes to reach the quarter-finals at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for a third consecutive year.
The second seed will next meet Italy's Sara Errani, a 6-3, 6-2 winner against Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli earlier in the day, in a re-match of last year's French Open final clinched by the Russian.
"I stepped up my game in the second set," Sharapova, who was champion here in 2006 and a losing finalist last year, said courtside after wrapping up victory in one hour 18 minutes.
"The first set was so up and down I had to buckle down, stepping into the returns and getting in a few more first serves. It was a slow start. Just didn't get a good rhythm on her game from the beginning.
"I think maybe I was going for the lines a little bit more than I had to, especially in the first few games when you don't know too much about your opponent or haven't played her."
Sharapova had never previously played against the 20-year-old Arruabarrena-Vecino, who is ranked 87th in the world and won her first WTA singles title in Bogota last year.
There were five breaks of serve in an erratic opening set but the Russian earned the crucial break in the 11th game when her opponent pushed a forehand wide.
Sharapova needed three set points before serving out, then broke Arruabarrena-Vecino's serve three more times in the second set to advance with ease.
Top seed Azarenka, who initially struggled to find her rhythm before battling past Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the previous round, broke Radwanska's serve three times in the opening set and twice in the second.
"I wasn't feeling that well," said the Belarusian, who is bidding to become the first woman to successfully defend the WTA title at Indian Wells since Martina Navratilova in 1991.
"My ankle was bothering me, it's been bothering me for a while. But, on the bright side, I won the match. I could overcome those things.
"I decided to just take everything in my own hands and see where it takes me."
Asked whether her ankle problem could force her to withdraw from Indian Wells, Azarenka replied: "I'm not going to give any answer of pulling out, that's for sure.
"I'm going to do everything I can to be ready for my next match and fight as hard as I can."
World No 1 Novak Djokovic survived a rocky start to defeat Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, 6-1 and reach the fourth round.
Djokovic, unbeaten in a 2013 campaign that so far includes a fourth Australian Open title and an ATP triumph in Dubai, was on the ropes in the opening set against the 21-year-old Bulgarian, who raced to a 4-1 lead and served for the set at 5-3.
But Dimitrov served up four double faults in the ninth game and was broken, and that was the only opening that Djokovic needed.
The Serbian star battled back to win in 67 minutes. He raced to a 5-0 lead en route to winning the first-set tiebreaker and didn't face a break point in the second frame.
Djokovic wrapped it up with a love game, sealing the victory with a service winner on match point.
"It was not really a beautiful match to watch," Djokovic said. "There were a lot of unforced errors, and we both looked quite sluggish on the court, very slow.
"In these kind of matches, where both of us don't feel so dynamic on the court, I knew that experience will kick in and can be decisive.
"That's actually what happened. He made four double faults which is very unusual to see in men's tennis nowadays, but, look, that's tennis. Turned it around, and from then on I felt a little bit better."
Andy Murray advanced to round four of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-2 win over Lu Yen-Hsun.
Lu, who beat Murray at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, raced out of the blocks with a series of big shots, creating a number of break-point opportunities.
But Murray resisted, saving all five break points he faced and breaking twice in each set to seal victory – and a meeting with Argentina's Carlos Berlocq – in an hour and 28 minutes.
"It was a very good second set," Murray told Sky Sports 3. "In the first set he had a lot of chances on my serve. I thought my footwork in the first set wasn't great. Once I started to loosen up and relax a little bit, my footwork improved."
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