Caroline Garcia moved into the fourth round at Indian Wells with a clinical 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-1 win over Leylah Fernandez on Monday while Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from her match after a talk with the WTA boss that she says triggered a panic attack.
Even though the match required three sets and nearly two-and-a-half hours to determine a winner the fifth seeded Garcia was rarely under pressure from her Canadian opponent who managed just two break chances and could not convert either.
Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka moved into the round of 16 when Tsurenko withdrew as the Ukraine conflict became a point of tension in the tournament.
Shortly before her match on Monday organisers announced that Tsurenko had withdrawn for personal reasons.
The Ukrainian qualifier later told Big Tennis website those personal reasons were a panic attack brought on by a conversation the 33-year-old had days earlier with WTA chief executive Steve Simon about tennis’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Belarus has been used as a staging ground for what Russia has called a special operation in the Ukraine.
“Officially it will be written ‘personal reasons’, but in fact it is breathing problems and, one might say, hysteria,” said Tsurenko. “I was absolutely shocked by what I heard.
“He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus (do), then this is only their own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not upset me.
“At the same time, he noted that if this had happened to him and he had been in my place, he would have felt terrible.”
Responding to a request for comment, the WTA told Reuters it has “consistently reflected our full support for Ukraine and strongly condemn the actions that have been brought forth by the Russian Government.”
Fernandez did little wrong against Garcia but was unable to crack the French woman’s defence.
Garcia only had one break opportunity herself in the first set but made it count nosing in front up 2-1 and then holding serve to take the opener.
Break chances were equally sparse in the second as the set went to a tie-break with a battling Fernandez extending the contest with a brilliant running forehand winner.
Fernandez had no answers for Garcia in the third as she stepped up her attack grabbing the early break to go up 3-1, sweeping five straight games.
“Losing the second set and the tie-breaker, I tried to really stay to good intensity and fighting,” said Garcia. “So that’s what I did better in the third set. I put more pressure on her and am very happy with the win.”