x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Holder Ivanovic advances

The defending champion Ana Ivanovic beat Argentina's Gisela Dulko 6-3, 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the WTA event in Indian Wells on Monday.

The defending champion Ana Ivanovic kept alive her hopes of a first title in 2009 by marching into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The Serbian has endured a dramatic fall from grace since winning the French Open last June and taking over as world No 1, and has lifted only one trophy in that time. But the 21-year-old said her new coach, Craig Kardon, who signed up with her last month, had helped restore her belief in her ability. She has struggled in the first three months of this year but there were encouraging signs for the fifth seed in a 6-3 6-3 win over Gisela Dulko. However, Ivanovic admitted the victory was not as easy as it may have appeared. "She was a tough opponent, so I knew I had to be aggressive," she said. "I didn't feel as good as I did in my first match. But I stepped it up when it got close in each set. I followed my instincts and went for my shots. "I played really well when I needed to, so I was happy about that. I'm looking forward to my next match."

Ivanovic next faces 12th seed Flavia Pennetta, who survived a tough encounter with American qualifier Angela Haynes, eventually prevailing 4-6 6-4 6-1. Ivanovic and Pennetta, the Italian, have met twice before, both indoors last year, with both players winning a match each. Seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska eased into round four with a 6-1 6-4 victory over 25th seed Aleksandra Wozniak and will now take on Agnes Szavay, the 22nd seed who beat Kristina Barrois 6-3 6-4. Nuria Llagostera Vives caused an upset by dumping out 21st seed Alisa Kleybanova 7-6 (7/2) 6-3 while Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Karin Knapp 6-2 6-4. sports@thenational.ae