INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Former champion Maria Sharapova raised her game when it mattered to storm into the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino on Tuesday.
Fifth seed Petra Kvitova also stormed into the quarterfinals, crushing compatriot Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-3, while Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka faces Poland’s Urszula Radwanska later on Tuesday.
After winning a tight opening set, Russian world number three Sharapova swept through the second in only 22 minutes to reach the last eight at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for a third consecutive year.
Second seed Sharapova will next meet Italy’s Sara Errani, a 6-3, 6-2 winner against Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli earlier in the day, in a rematch of last year’s French Open final clinched by the Russian.
“I stepped up my game in the second set,” Sharapova, who was champion here in 2006 and a losing finalist last year, said courtside after wrapping up victory in one hour 18 minutes.
“The first set was so up and down I had to buckle down, stepping into the returns and getting in a few more first serves. It was a slow start. Just didn’t get a good rhythm on her game from the beginning.
“I think maybe I was going for the lines a little bit more than I had to, especially in the first few games when you don’t know too much about your opponent or haven’t played her.”
Sharapova had never previously played against the 20-year-old Arruabarrena-Vecino, who is ranked 87th in the world and won her first WTA singles title in Bogota last year.
“I thought towards the end of the first and beginning of the second set I really stepped it up,” said Sharapova, who claimed her fourth grand slam singles crown at last year’s French Open.
“I was being more aggressive, and really gave myself a better margin than I did throughout the first set.”
There were five breaks of serve in an erratic opening set but the Russian earned the crucial break in the 11th game when her opponent pushed a forehand wide.
Sharapova needed three set points before serving out, then broke Arruabarrena-Vecino’s serve three more times in the second set to advance with ease.
Sixth seed Errani became the first player to reach the last eight with a ruthless display against Bartoli, the ninth seed.
The 25-year-old Italian, who is known for her doubles prowess, converted seven of 12 break points to triumph in 88 minutes and improve her record for the year to 21-7.
Fifth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova also stormed into the quarter-finals, crushing compatriot Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-3.
The left-handed Kvitova will next meet either third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland or Russian Maria Kirilenko, who play later on Tuesday.