Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki brushed aside a shaky first set to come from behind and beat Sofia Arvidsson 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the Indian Wells tennis tournament third round. Denmark’s Wozniacki, who won a half dozen titles last year, is still finding her way in 2012 and it showed Monday as she struggled to hold serve against her fellow Scandinavian in a two hour, 35 minute night match.
It was an uphill struggle at times for the former world number one as Arvidsson came charging out of the gate, using excellent groundstrokes to seize control in some of the longer rallies in front of about 2,000 people at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“I have known Sofia since I was 12 or 13,” Wozniacki said. “We practised together and we know each other’s games so well. She just came from a win in Memphis so I know she was on fire. I am so happy with the win.”
Arvidsson was the victor in the pair’s first encounter six years ago, when Wozniacki was only 15, but the Dane has now won five of their six meetings since then.
Wozniacki broke the Swede seven times overall, including three times in the final set.
Both players struggled to hold serve in a sloppy opening set. Arvidsson broke Wozniacki in the seventh and ninth games but was broken herself in the eighth. In the final game, Arvidsson took a 40-15 lead then closed out the set on her second set point when Wozniacki dumped a shot into the net.
Wozniacki broke Arvidsson in the 11th game of the second set, winning all four points and setting the stage for her to serve for the set.
On match point in the third set, Arvidsson hit a backhand drop shot that Wozniacki was able to reach easily to hit a running forehand winner.
Wozniacki advances to the fourth round where she will play Ana Ivanovic, who beat Ksenia Pervak 6-7 (8/10), 6-3, 6-2.
The 28-year-old Arvidsson has been resurgent this year, winning her second WTA career title after a six-year gap at the Memphis tournament last month, beating Kiwi Marina Erakovic in the final.
Djokovic cruises, Aussie Ebden upsets Fish
World number one Novak Djokovic continued his domination over Kevin Anderson, rolling over the South African 6-2, 6-3 in the third round of the ATP-WTA Indian Wells tournament on Monday. Top seed Djokovic has now beaten Anderson four straight times, including three matches in 2011. After winning the Australian Open, defending champion Djokovic is now 12-1 for the season in his third tournament. He will be hard-pressed to match his performance of last year when he had one of the best seasons in the history of the sport, but he is showing no signs of slowing down either.
“I think I served well and put a lot of pressure on him and returned really, really good,” Djokovic said. “So I’m really happy with this win today. It wasn’t easy.”
The 24-year-old Serb advances to the fourth round, where he will play Spaniard Pablo Andujar, who beat countryman Albert Ramos 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
Djokovic had five aces, was a perfect three-for-three on break points saved and won 67 percent of his first-serve points in the 97-minute match.
He broke Anderson twice in the first set and once in the second to go up 4-2, closing out the contest on his first match point when Anderson smacked a forehand wide. “It was close,” Djokovic said. “The score doesn’t indicate how close it was. I played him a couple of times before and in most of our matches the first set goes for a half hour or more.”
Schiavone, Kvitova also hit by virus
Former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone and reigning Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova have joined the growing list of players forced to pull out of the Indian Wells tennis.
The 31-year-old Italian was a set down (6-2) in her third round match against Czech Lucie Safarova when she packed it in Monday, joining several others who have withdrawn or retired because of a virus, tournament officials said Monday.
Schiavone is a two-time French Open finalist and a winner in 2010. Last year she lost in the Roland Garros final to China’s Li Na.
Czech Kvitova had already been eliminated in the singles draw on Sunday and was due to play a doubles match Monday when she withdrew, complaining of stomach flu.
“I have had it before a few years ago and it’s not pretty,” second seed Maria Sharapova said. “It’s a great diet, but other than that it’s horrible, especially for an athlete.
“There has been a few emails going around and just being extra careful.
“But it’s pretty tough, I mean, considering you can’t really escape it too much.”
French 14th seed Gael Monfils, ninth seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva, American Vania King and Jurgen Melzer of Austria withdrew from matches Sunday at the hardcourt tournament. They joined Magdalena Rybarikova, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Andreas Seppi who pulled out on Saturday.
Officials said Zvonareva’s virus is not believed to be the same as the other eight who have all complained of stomach problems.
Sharapova advances at Indian Wells
Second seed Maria Sharapova of Russia defeated Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the ATP/WTA Indian Wells tournament on Monday.
Sharapova advances to the fourth round where she will play Roberta Vinci of Italy who beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-7 (5/7), 6-0, 6-4.