Elena Baltacha loses to Flavia Pennetta in Indian Wells
Baltacha excited despite defeat
British number one Elena Baltacha came up just short against 13th seed Flavia Pennetta despite another battling display at the BNP Paribas Open.
Baltacha had saved four match points in beating another Italian, Roberta Vinci, in round one and she went close to pulling off another upset.
The Scot, ranked 37th, led by a break in the final set but went down 6-4 3-6 6-4 after two hours and three minutes.
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki beat Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-2.
The Dane, who will meet Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the next round, said: "I feel good. It's always nice to have a win, and the first match is difficult. But I pulled through, so it's nice.
"I felt like the timing was not quite there yet but Sloane, she took her chances. She played well. I would just like to go match by match and try to develop my game."
Former world number one Dinara Safina - now ranked down at 108 in the world - showed signs of a revival in form as she beat two-time Indian Wells champion and 26th seed Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.
There were also wins for fourth seed Sam Stosur, eighth seed Victoria Azarenka and three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, but 11th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova lost 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (9-7) to American Christina McHale.
On a hot day in the Californian desert, Baltacha appeared to have missed her chance at a set and a break down after seeing three break points slip by, but she gathered herself superbly against a tetchy Pennetta to reel off five straight games and force a decider.
I have played a lot of the top ladies, I knew what kind of level to expect and I went in very confident in my own ability
The momentum was now very much with the 27-year-old Briton and, after receiving some treatment to her back early in the final set, she broke again to move 4-2 in front.
Victory was within sight when Baltacha had a game point for 5-3 but she could not capitalise, and Pennetta took full advantage by levelling at 4-4 before sealing victory with another break in game 10.
"The positive is I'm getting closer and closer every time," said Baltacha.
"It's a shame, it's disappointing, but for me the most important thing is that I'm not losing 6-1 6-1, I'm in with a sniff. That's the most exciting thing for me moving forward.
"I've put myself in a position where I've played more of those kind of players on a regular basis. I have played a lot of the top ladies, I knew what kind of level to expect and I went in very confident in my own ability.
"It's nice that I've won a round here and had a great performance today. That's the key thing going into Miami for me."
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