Tennis: Flavia Pennetta breaks down, then takes down Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia walks off the court after losing to Flavia Penetta of Italy, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, in a fourth round match at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
(Julian Finney / Getty Images)

Second-seeded Maria Sharapova was beaten Tuesday night at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. And that was only half the headline from the match.

The winner, defending champion Flavia Pennetta, had a sort of nervous breakdown after the first set, an emotional unraveling captured on TV.

Pennetta, an Italian seeded 15th, had lost the first set of her eventual 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory and began to cry while walking off the court between games. Then, she left the court after the set and was seen, and heard, sobbing and screaming and appearing to be totally out of control in the tunnel just off the court.

After that, she somehow gathered herself, returned and hit Sharapova off the court.


“There were just a lot of emotions in one night,” Pennetta said. “Sometimes women have these moments, so I was just trying to handle it.”

Pennetta was clear that something just sneaked up on her and overwhelmed her, but she was unable to explain the specifics.

“Was not winning or losing,” she said. “I mean, I didn’t expect [it]. It’s just coming in one point. I think there were a lot of things coming in one night and it is just coming out.”

Asked if everything was OK with her life, she said, “Si, si. I am very happy.”


Sharapova, asked if Pennetta’s incident had distracted her, said she hadn’t even noticed it.

“That’s news to me,” Sharapova said.

In another women’s match, unheralded Swiss player Timea Bacsinszky won her 15th match in a row, beating Elina Svitolina, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Bacsinszky has come out of nowhere. She is 25, was ranked 285th in 2013 and 48th last year.

“I can’t believe I win 15 matches in a row,” said Bacsinszky, who won a tournament last week at Monterrey, Mexico. “I was looking at the stats of Roger Federer while he was doing so well that couple of years. I was wondering, how does he do that?”

In men’s singles, No. 2 Federer and No. 3 Rafael Nadal did the expected, advancing with straight-set wins. Nadal beat Donald Young, 6-4, 6-2, and Federer beat the man who beat him at this year’s Australian Open, Andreas Seppi, 6-3, 6-4.

Federer is seeking his fifth Indian Wells title. No other man has won four.

Steve Johnson, like Young a rising U.S. player, ran into ninth-seeded Tomas Berdych and lost, 6-4, 6-2. But another young U.S. hopeful made it through. Jack Sock reached his first fourth round at a Masters Series event, beating Roberto Bautista Agut, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.


Sock will next play Federer, whom he says he admires and with whom he has friendly chats in the locker room. “I think he’s a walking legend,” Sock said.

Tommy Robredo and Milos Raonic also advanced.

Follow Bill Dwyre on Twitter @DwyreLATimes