Nicole Gibbs' thrill ride at the BNP Paribas Open ended Tuesday when No. 8 Petra Kvitova beat her, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in the fourth round. But looking at the bigger picture, Gibbs' ascent might be just starting.
Gibbs, a Stanford graduate who trains in Los Angeles and is ranked 95th in the world, gained two breaks to Kvitova's one in the first set and took a 3-2 lead in the third after a break and a hold. But Kvitova won three straight games to halt Gibbs' winning streak here at five, including qualifying.
"I'm definitely disappointed with the outcome despite it being a close match. I really do think I could have won today and I had some opportunities that I wasn't able to capitalize on," said Gibbs, who had upset No. 23 Madison Keys in the second round. "However, that being said, to not play my best and go toe-to-toe with a player that I've struggled a lot with in the past and is also top 10, has two Wimbledon titles, that's encouraging for me moving forward."
Working the past few months with a new coach, Roger Smith, has made her more of an all-court player and more positive. "I think I'm on the right path," she said.
Kvitova advanced to the quarterfinals against Agnieszka Radwanska, a 6-3, 6-3 winner over No. 19 Jelena Jankovic.
Top seeds move on
No. 1 Serena Williams overpowered Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, 6-2, 6-2, to set up a quarterfinal meeting with defending champion Simona Halep of Romania. Halep won her first set against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, and led, 1-0, Tuesday when Strycova retired.
"I really like her game. I like how she's aggressive. She's a fighter. She killed me at one point, so I definitely have to be ready," Williams said of being routed by Halep in round-robin play in the 2014 WTA Finals. "It'll be a really good match, I think, for both of us to kind of see where we want to be at, at this point in the year."
Men's No. 1 Novak Djokovic chided himself for some errors in his 7-5, 7-5 night victory over No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber. "Just fortunate to get through in straight sets," he said.
After a near-perfect set against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, No. 4 seed Rafael Nadal was baffled when he began to lose command of his serve. His concentration and confidence followed. "I was suffering at the end of the second set," he said.
To the crowd's delight, Nadal regrouped to close out a 6-0, 7-6 (9) victory and reach the round of 16 against phenom Alexander Zverev of Germany. Zverev, ranked 58th in the world, enhanced his resume with a 6-2, 6-2 upset of 16th-seeded Gilles Simon of France. "He's a clear possible future No. 1. He's an amazing player. He has all the shots," Nadal said of Zverev, 18.
No. 18 Feliciano Lopez of Spain upset compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (5), 6-7, 6-4. ... Women's No. 18 Karolina Pliskova defeated Johanna Konta of Great Britain, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3. ... Unseeded 18-year-old Daria Kasatkina advanced to the quarterfinals by upsetting No. 12 Timea Bascinszky of Switzerland, 6-4, 6-2. ... No. 13 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus defeated No. 26 Samantha Stosur of Australia, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Azarenka's quarterfinal opponent will be Magdalena Rybarikova, who advanced when No. 9 Roberta Vinci retired with Rybarikova leading, 6-2, 2-0.