Aryna Sabalenka saved four match points before finally converting on her own fourth winning opportunity, squeezing into the Indian Wells Masters third round   6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (6) over American Payton Stearns on Saturday. 

The double Australian Open winner was tested by her No. 64 challenger but stayed strong to produce the victory after three hours.

Sabalenka was playing only her second match since repeating as Open champion in Melbourne; her previous outing was an opening loss in Dubai last month

The seed broke Stearns as the American served for victory leading 5-4 in the third set; Sabalenka finally advanced in a tiebreaker despite rolling her ankle and falling in a heap on the court..

“I was trying (after the injury), I was trying so hard to get to every ball and to put every ball back,” she said.. 

“Now I feel okay, we’ll see tomorrow. But I have a great team, and I’m pretty sure they will take care of it so for the next match I will be ready.

“Even though I didn’t play my best tennis and she was crushing it like crazy. I was trying to stay in the game and keep fighting for every point.”

Sabalenka, theĀ 2023 runner-up here, next faces fellow Grand Slam champion Emma Raducanu of Britain.

Main photo:- Aryna Sabalenka won 2024 Australian Open by ISF Ltd