INDIAN WELLS, California, March 11 Fourth seed Angelique Kerber heeded the advice of her coach as she came from 1-4 down in the final set to beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1 7-6 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday.
Told to rely on self-belief while concentrating on the strategy they had mapped out before the match, the German left-hander won five of the next seven games before clinching the tiebreak 7-4 on a hot morning at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Kerber, a semi-finalist here last year when she lost to the eventual champion Victoria Azarenka, will next meet Spaniard Garbine Muguruza Blanco, who swept past Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 6-0.
"Last time it was very tough so I knew it wasn't going to be easy today," Kerber, who needed three sets to beat Wickmayer in their previous meeting, said courtside.
"At 1-4, my coach came on court and told me to remember the game plan. He said, 'Just focus on your game, believe in yourself,' and I did it. I am just happy to be in the next round."
The German world number six broke Wickmayer three times to breeze through the opening set in 31 minutes but then lost rhythm as she failed to hold in her next three service games.
In all, there were eight breaks of serve in an erratic second set as the Belgian delivered a mix of crunching forehand winners with a series of unforced errors.
After Kerber levelled at 6-6, she dominated the tiebreak and sealed victory after one hour 22 minutes with a forehand winner down the line leaving Wickmayer stranded at the net.
"After my coach spoke to me, I was just playing point by point, and believing in my game," said Kerber, who was forced to withdraw from a Fed Cup match against France last month due to a back injury.
"His advice certainly helped. Before the tournament I was not sure how my back will feel after matches. Now my confidence is of course back and I feel good. I'm looking forward to play tomorrow again."
In other matches, seventh seed Samantha Stosur of Australia overcame China's Peng Shuai 6-3 3-6 6-2 and 10th-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova brushed aside Germany's Julia Goerges 6-1 6-2.
Australian Open champion and top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was scheduled to play against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens later in the day. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)