At 17, Kayla Day is mature enough to realize she had to look past her immediate disappointment and consider the larger context of her second-round loss to world No. 7 Garbine Muguruza of Spain on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open.
Day won the first set and had two break points at 5-5 in the second, but couldn't put away the increasingly steady Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion. Muguruza won the match, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, at Stadium 1 but Day gained experience and a sense of the consistency and craft she will need in order to flourish against opponents who are older and more accustomed to handling pressure on a big stage.
"I was pretty upset after my match because it didn't go the way I wanted in the end. But if you look at the big picture, I was able to push a top-10 player really far," said Day, a Santa Barbara native who lives in Long Beach. "I didn't really have any expectations going in. I mean, I had to believe I could win, because you can't go into a match thinking you're going to lose. ... But yeah, it was a good match."
Winning the first set was gratifying but just the start. "I knew there was still a long way to go. A lot of people can win first sets, and you have to win two sets to win a tennis match," said Day, who had gotten a place in the main draw as a wild card and defeated Australian Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round.
Muguruza said she wasn't sharp at the outset but credited Day's serve and overall game. "I think she played good. I'm surprised with how she handled, you know, center court," Muguruza said.
The respect apparently is mutual. Day has a dog named Garbine, a name chosen by Day's mother after she saw Muguruza on TV. "Well," Muguruza said, smiling, "that's funny."
Every memorable tournament seems to have an epic match or two, and the 3-hour 22-minute battle Sunday between No. 15 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland and No. 18 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands tops the list here so far. Bacsinszky saved four match points and closed it out on her sixth match point, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8).
"At six-all we both deserved it," Bacsinszky told the WTA website. "She played with her heart. I did, too. Our tennis wasn't brilliant: We did not play the best match ever. If I would have lost I would have felt the same as now because it was a coin flip. It wasn't amazing tennis but it was a huge fight from both of us."
Bacsinszky will face No. 3 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
No. 21 seed Caroline Garcia of France upset No. 11 Johanna Konta of Britain, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1), to set up a fourth-round match against No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, who defeated Roberta Vinci, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. No. 10 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine defeated Daria Gavrilova of Australia, 6-2, 6-1, and moved on to face Muguruza.
On the men's side, wild-card entrant Taylor Fritz earned his first victory over a top-10 foe when he upset No. 6 Marin Cilic of Croatia, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Jack Sock, seeded 17th, advanced with a 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 victory over Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.
In the last match of the night, No. 5 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia came back to outlast Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4). Pliskova is the twin sister of No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova.