Maria Sakkari burnt by handshake act after victory

Another day and another ice cold handshake snub has struck the tennis world with one veteran delivering a frosty gesture.

The biggest tournament outside of the Grand Slams is reaching its latter stages as the contests take on even greater meaning.

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And it seems as the games become even more tense, the stars are struggling to hide their discontent at being knocked out.

On Wednesday it was former world number one Karolina Pliskova’s turn to throw the toys out of the crib as she fell to Maria Sakkari.

The two-time Grand Slam finalist fell in a tight three-set contest with Sakkari advancing 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 after two hours and 45 minutes.

But it was at the net when the fireworks detonated as Pliskova refused to look her opponent in the eye as they shook hands.

The apparent reason for the no-look burn, according to tennis journalist Jose Morgado, is Pliskova believing Sakkari had got away with cheating in the third set.

“Sakkari survives, 2h45, into the QFs in Indian Wells. No look handshake from Pliskova, who thinks Maria cheated later in the 3rd. Kaja says Sakkari touched a ball at the net, umpire didn’t see, Maria denies it,” Morgado tweeted.

The victory for the seventh seeded Sakkari moves her into a quarterfinal showdown number 15 seed Petra Kvitoa who saved four match points to book her spot.

The two-time Wimbledon champion shock third-ranked American Jessica Pegula 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 to reach the quarterfinal stage at Indian Wells for the first time in seven years.

Kvitova, a former world number two now ranked 15th in the world, will try to make her first Indian Wells semi-final in her 12th appearance when she takes on last year’s runner-up Sakkari.

“I had all these emotions, up and down all the match, it was a disaster at some point and then I was just making winners.

“I don’t know how many match points I was saving today — four? Oh! I don’t know how I did it.”

In the mens draw, top seed Carlos Alcaraz reached the Indian Wells quarter-finals as Britain’s Jack Draper retired from their fourth-round match with an injury to his right side.

Spain’s Alcaraz, who can return to number one in the world with a third ATP Masters 1000 title this week, led 6-2, 2-0 when Draper, who had been treated by a physio, called a halt after 46 minutes on court.

“This is not the way anybody wants to win a match, because something is wrong,” Alcaraz said. “All I can say is I hope to see him get well soon.” Alcaraz, 19, became the youngest men’s world number one ever last year after his precocious US Open triumph.

But after an abdominal injury hindered him late last year and a leg injury forced him to miss the Australian Open he has slipped behind Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic is absent this week as he is prohibited from entering the United States because he declined to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

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