INDIAN WELLS • Angelique Kerber will not celebrate her return to world No. 1 with an Indian Wells title after a shock fourth-round exit on Tuesday at the hands of Elena Vesnina.
The second-seeded German lost 6-3, 6-3 to Vesnina, who booked a quarter-final clash with seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams.
The 14th-seeded Russian notched her first career victory over a top-three player.
Kerber was the top-ranked player in the draw, and will return to No. 1 in the world on Monday despite the defeat, thanks to Serena Williams' injury withdrawal from the event.
Vesnina went up a quick break and never trailed. She broke Kerber five times, and stifled a rally that saw the German close the gap from 4-1 to 4-3 in the second set.
"I was a little nervous at the end of the match," said the Russian.
"So I'm really happy that I closed that match because this win means a lot to me."
Kerber, winner of the Australian and US Open titles last year, had struggled past 62nd-ranked Pauline Parmentier of France in the previous round and never found her rhythm against Vesnina.
"It was not my day," she said. "I was making a lot of mistakes. I was not moving well. But it's happened. I mean, she played from the beginning until the end good tennis, and she was aggressive."
Venus beat Chinese qualifier Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the last eight.
Eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova is also through to the quarter-finals after speeding past Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-4. The 31-year-old Russian next faces compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who toppled fifth-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Third-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova booked her quarter-final berth with an abbreviated appearance under the hot desert sun.
She was leading Timea Bacsinszky 5-1 when the Swiss player retired with a left wrist injury.
Pliskova next faces seventh-seeded French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, who downed 10th-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 6-0.
Women's q-finals: StarHub Ch203, 10am & tomorrow, 2am