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Published: Monday 16th March 2015 by The News Editor
Top seed Serena Williams cruised into the last 16 of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday with an emphatic victory over Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas.
Diyas held serve to love in the first game of the match, but from then on barely got a look-in as Williams, a two-time former champion at this event, reeled off 12 of the next 13 games for a 6-2 6-0 triumph in just 53 minutes.
Williams on Friday made an emotional return to Indian Wells, having not played at the tournament in the Californian desert since winning the title in 2001. Then 19, she was jeered during her final victory over Kim Clijsters by a crowd unhappy that Venus Williams had pulled out of a scheduled semi-final against her sister the previous day at the last minute.
Critics believed matches between the siblings were fixed and Venus and the women’s father and coach Richard claimed they were subjected to racist taunts in the stands.
Having ground out a gutsy 7-5 7-5 triumph over Monica Niculescu two days earlier, WIlliams was asked about the contrast between her first two matches and told www.wtatennis.com: “I was just trying to get there and win my match in the (second) round.
“I ended up playing a girl who was super tricky, and I was trying to stay focused, plus all the other stuff going on. But (Saturday) was super relaxing. It was good to have a day off to have a chance to prepare for my next match.
“(On Sunday) it definitely felt back to normal out there, just trying to feel the rhythm and feel the ball. I was able to do more of the right things and not make as many mistakes as I did in my last round.”
Elsewhere in the women’s third round on Sunday, Heather Watson claimed the biggest win of her career as she beat seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 6-4.
The British number one broke the seventh seed five times on her way to victory in an hour and 33 minutes. She will next take on Carla Suarez Navarro after the Spanish 12th seed toppled Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (7/4) 6-7 (5/7) 6-0.
Romanian third seed Simona Halep made hard work of securing her progress, taking two hours 14 minutes to see off American Varvara Lepchenko 6-1 3-6 6-1. Halep will next face 14th seed Karolina Pliskova, who prevailed 7-5 6-4 against Garbine Muguruza.
Eighth seed Ekaterina Makarova was upset 3-6 7-5 6-4 by Timea Bacsinszky and 10th seed Lucie Safarova was also sent packing, going down 7-6 (7/5) 7-5 to Elina Svitolina.
Former US Open and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded 22, was another casualty, beaten 7-6 (7/4) 1-6 6-4 by Sloane Stephens – who will take on Williams in the last 16.
In the men’s second round, four-time champion Roger Federer overcame Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-4 6-2 in 64 minutes to set up a third-round clash with Andreas Seppi.
The second-seeded Swiss suffered a first defeat to Seppi in 11 meetings at the Australian Open in January but will have the chance to gain revenge after the Italian 30th seed toppled Romania’s Victor Hanescu 6-4 6-4. Seppi sent down six aces and saved both break points he faced.
Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka did not fare so well, ousted by world number 104 Robin Haase. The Dutchman secured the fourth top-10 scalp of his career with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over the 2014 Australian Open champion.
Third seed Rafael Nadal opened his bid for a fourth Indian Wells crown with a 6-4 6-2 triumph over Dutchman Igor Sijsling in 72 minutes.
The Spaniard saved the only break point he faced, and lost a total of just seven points on his service games.
“He’s an aggressive player,” Nadal said of his opponent on www.atpworldtour.com.
“I think I played well. I think I played a solid match to be the first match. I played with not many mistakes, winning a good percentage of points with my serve (96 per cent on first serve). One very important thing for me are the movements, and I think I moved myself a little bit quicker tonight than what I was doing one month ago.”
Nadal will play Donald Young in round three after the American beat Frenchman Jeremy Chardy by the same scoreline – 6-4 6-2.
Steve Johnson of the United States advanced with a 6-3 7-6 (7/5) win against Croatian 21st seed Ivo Karlovic, and Alexandr Dolgopolov got the better of 29th seed Santiago Giraldo 6-1 7-6 (7/4).
American Jack Sock battled from a set down and saved one match point to beat 33rd seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 3-6 6-3 7-6 (9/7) in two hours 23 minutes.
Michael Berrer led Richard Gasquet 7-6 (8/6) 4-6 3-1 when the French 22nd seed retired due to a back injury. Next up for the German qualifier will be another Frenchman – Gilles Simon, the 13th seed having overcome Malek Jaziri 6-3 4-6 6-2.
Sixth seed Milos Raonic of Canada progressed with a 6-3 6-4 triumph over Italy’s Simone Bolelli, while Czech Tomas Berdych – seeded nine – defeated Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-1 6-4 and Bulgarian 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov edged two tie-breaks to see off Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (7/2) 3-6 7-6 (7/4).
Other seeds to reach round three on Sunday were Roberto Bautista-Agut (15), Tommy Robredo (17) and Lukas Rosol (27).
Published: Monday 16th March 2015 by The News Editor