INDIAN WELLS (AP) — Simona Halep is on track to retain her No. 1 world ranking after defeating Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-1 in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Halep improved to 17-1 this year and needs only to reach the final to stay at the top. If not, Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Halep in the Australian Open final, could replace her if the Dane wins the title. Halep and Wozniacki are the only former Indian Wells winners left in the women’s draw.
Next up for Halep is Petra Martic of Croatia, who beat Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Tuesday.
American teenager Amanda Anisimova’s run of success ended in a 6-1, 7-6 (2) loss to No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.
Anisimova, a 16-year-old wild card, won her first three WTA Tour matches at Indian Wells, beating Pauline Parmentier, No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova without dropping a set.
“She’s 16, so she’s not scared,” Pliskova said of Anisimova. “You can see she’s hitting the ball without thinking. But everybody is playing like this when they are 16.
I think this will change a little bit in the future, but for sure the game is good and not really any weakness. I think everything is pretty solid.”
Pliskova faces a quarterfinal against Naomi Osaka, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 5-7, 6-1.
Halep attended 37-year-old Venus Williams’ straight-set victory over 36-year-old sister and new mother Serena on Monday night.
“I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid,” Halep said. “It’s a great thing what they do for sport, and it’s great that tennis has them. I have many things to learn from them. That’s why I’m trying just to go in to watch every time I can.”
On the men’s side, Gael Monfils retired in the second set with a back injury trailing fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 3-1.
Monfils used an eight-minute injury timeout in the second set to get his back worked on before returning to the court and getting broken in fourth game. He then walked to the net and ended the match.
Herbert moved on to a fourth-round matchup with Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who upset No. 2 seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4.
Cilic won 19 of 23 points on his first serve, but failed to convert four break points against 31st-seeded Kohlschreiber, who snapped a 12-match skid against top-10 opponents.
Herbert remains in contention for the $1 million bonus offered to a player who sweeps the singles and doubles titles.
No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina defeated No. 29 David Ferrer of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Del Potro’s countryman, Leonardo Mayer, beat Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-1.
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