Tearful Pennetta stuns Sharapova, Serena wins

Wed Mar 18, 2015 3:14am EDT
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INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova fell victim to an emotional Flavia Pennetta, who burst into tears before regaining her composure to stun the second seed 3-6 6-3 6-2 at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.

Italy's Pennetta, the defending champion at Indian Wells, left the court momentarily after breaking down following her first set loss.

"Sometimes woman have these moment. (I) just go and let everything out, screaming..." Pennetta told reporters. "I just breathe and just let it pass."

When the 15th seeded Pennetta returned she seized the momentum, going on to win 10 of the last 13 games to blaze past the two-time champion Sharapova and into the last eight.

Sharapova said she was unaware of Pennetta's emotional outburst and had struggles of her own, the Russian finishing with 42 unforced errors and 11 double faults.

"Maybe I wasn't playing my best tennis but I was competitive enough," Sharapova said. "I just wasn't able to step up in the key moments."

Earlier, top seed Serena Williams overcame a wobbly start to see off a determined Sloane Stephens 6-7(3) 6-2 6-2 and move into the last eight.

Williams, playing her third match at Indian Wells after deciding to end a 14-year boycott of the event where she had suffered alleged racist abuse, enjoyed plenty of support but struggled early to find her form.

Stephens, who reached the quarter-finals a year ago, looked ready to return to the last eight after breaking Williams twice to open the match but in the end there was no denying the world number one as she extended her winning run to 14 matches.   Continued...

Flavia Pennetta of Italy returns the ball to Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki during their women's singles tennis match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah