Upset City: Puig, Sakkari Pull off the Unexepected to Reach QFs
By: Nick McCarvel
And just like that, two of the top title contenders at the Volvo Car Open are out.
No. 2 seed and defending champion Kiki Bertens had four set points in the opener but couldn't convert, then fell in straight sets to No. 15 seed Maria Sakkari 7-6(8) 6-3 in Volvo Car Stadium. It's the third top 10 win of the young Greek player's career.
Elsewhere, on the Althea Gibson Club Court, No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka fell in similar fashion against 2016 Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, losing to the Puerto Rican 6-2 7-5 after making a second-set surge. It's Puig's (pictured) first quarterfinal since October.
Belinda Bencic, the ninth seed, and Petra Martic, seeded 16th, also won on Thursday as the quarterfinals here started to fill out.
Bencic will meet Martic on Friday, while Puig will get the winner of American Danielle Collins and Kaia Kanepi.
Sakkari awaits the winner of 2011 champ Caroline Wozniacki and Mihaela Buzarnescu, the No. 12 seed.
Later today, No. 8 seed Madison Keys meets 2017 French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko.
The winner of that match will face either No. 1 Sloane Stephens, the 2016 winner here, or No. 14 Ajla Tomljanovic.
All four quarterfinals are scheduled for Friday.
Bencic opened the day's play inside Stadium, holding off American challenger Taylor Townsend 6-2 7-5. Simultaneously, Martic scored a comeback win over another American, Jessica Pegula, winning 2-6 6-3 6-2.
Doubles also features on Thursday, with top seeds Nicole Melichar and Kveta Pesche in action, as are No. 4 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Alicja Rosolska.