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Nigeria

Halep, Venus progress, Wozniacki falls

World No. 1 Simona Halep and Venus Williams punched their tickets to the Indian Wells quarter-finals, while Caroline Wozniacki suffered another exit at the hands of Russia’s rising star Daria Kasatkina, AFP reports.

Halep breezed through her fourth round match with a 7-5, 6-1 win over China’s Wang Qiang and eighth seed Venus Williams faced a stern test from Anastasija Sevastova but held on for a 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 victory.

The 20-year-old Kasatkina, who has beaten all four reigning Grand Slam champions in the past year, continued her giant-killing form with a 6-4, 7-5 shock victory over world No. 2 Wozniacki.

Kasatkina recorded her second straight win over Wozniacki, having also beaten the Australian Open champ at the St. Petersburg tournament last month.

Kasatkina improved to 11-6 on the WTA Tour season as she seeks to better her quarter-final appearance here in 2016.

Kasatkina hit one ace, won 54 percent of her first serves and broke Wozniacki’s serve six times in the one hour, 40 minute match.

It was a disappointing exit for Wozniacki, who finally silenced her critics earlier this year with her maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne, where she defeated Halep in the final. Wozniacki had a chance to get the No. 1 back but she needed to win the Indian Wells title to do it.

Kasatkina said she is starting to believe in herself, especially when she faces top 10 players.

“In the beginning it was really tough because I was really nervous going on the big stages against big players,” she said.

“But now with experience and with time I’m getting into it.

“I’m getting pretty confident at this level.”

But she added, “I am still young so I have to work on everything.”

Kasatkina next plays 10th seed Angelique Kerber, of Germany, who roared past seventh seeded Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-1.

Meanwhile, Halep, who is one of two former champions left in the draw, is now 17-1 on the season having already won a title in both singles and doubles at Shenzhen, China.

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