WTA BNP Paribas Open: Li Na defeats Karlolina Pliskova, Maria Sharapova eliminated
Top seed Li Na eased into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open as defending champion Maria Sharapova crashed out.
Last Updated: 11/03/14 9:18am
Li was down a break early in the first set and did not make life easy for herself by sending down nine double faults against the world No 67.
Still basking in her Australian Open glory, it is the first time Li has been the top seed in a tournament as big as this one.
"I try to feel the same, but it is different," she admitted. "Before if I came to a tournament maybe I was like number six or number seven seed. Now it's high attention, everyone is focused (on me)."
She will take on Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, a 6-1 6-7 6-0 winner over 21st-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, in the last 16.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova crashed out to qualifier Camila Giorgi.
Sharapova is still finding her feet after missing the last three months of last season with a shoulder problem but had looked in decent form in her first-round win over Julia Goerges.
She was wobbly right from the start on Monday, though, against powerful and fearless 22-year-old Giorgi, who reached the fourth round at the US Open last summer.
Sharapova failed to hold serve at all in the first set at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and, although she took the second to level the match, her struggles continued.
Giorgi faltered serving for the match for the first time but Sharapova gave her another chance and this time she took it to win 6-3 4-6 7-5 after two hours and 36 minutes.
There were 15 breaks of serve in total, with Sharapova dropping her serve eight times.
The Russian's ranking will now drop from five to, at best, seven and, with a lot of points to defend over the next few months, her place in the top 10 could come under threat.
No 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova overcame 23rd seed Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 7-5, while former Wimbledon champions Petra Kvitova rallied to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 2-6 6-0.
Flavia Pennetta, seeded 20th, overcame 16th-ranked Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-4 3-6 6-1, while Alisa Kleybanova saw off Maria Teresa Torro 6-1 6-3.