Serena Williams cruises into 4th round with 53 minute victory at Indian Wells

By Beth Harris


Serena Williams

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. _ Serena Williams cruised into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, beating up-and-comer Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-0 in 53 minutes.

Williams was bathed in applause by the half-full stadium court crowd in her second match since ending a 14-year boycott of the tournament. They booed supportively when the chair umpire ruled an apparent ace ticked the net on her second match point.

Williams waved her left arm dismissively toward the chair. She screamed in frustration when her backhand error wasted a second match point and forced deuce. The world’s top-ranked women’s player closed it out on her third match point when Diyas’ backhand sailed long.

“Things are going in the right direction,” Williams said on court. “I was able to play more consistent today and I felt that worked in my favour.”

Diyas was making her debut at Indian Wells and fell to 2-9 against top 10 players in her young career. She improved her ranking by 129 spots last year and is currently No. 32.

Next up for Williams is either two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova or fellow American Sloane Stephens, who played later.

“It feels really special,” Williams said about the crowd reaction. “I feel really glad to be here and still be in the tournament.”

Four-time Indian Wells winner Roger Federer played later.

Donald Young led a parade of upsets earlier in the day, with the American beating 31st-seeded Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-2.

Young equaled his best result at Indian Wells, reaching the third round for the third time. He faces a potentially tough next match, taking on either No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal or Igor Sijsling, who met in the evening.

“The main thing is I’m doing it a little more consistent, playing a good match after another one, battling through tough situations, and not letting them be too much and take me out of my rhythm,” Young said.

Young reached his second career ATP Tour final last month in Florida and made the semifinals in Memphis.

No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov nearly followed some of the other seeded players out of the tournament, needing three sets to hold off Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-6 (4) over two hours in 90-degree weather that is unusually hot for this time of year in the desert.

Kyrgios fell and rolled his ankle in the ninth game of the last set, but managed to break back and had a chance to serve out a victory.

“It obviously played a big part in me not serving out the match, because I had not really been broken before that,” said Kyrgios, who planned to have an ultrasound on his foot.

Dimitrov held serve and went on to win the tiebreaker.

“He’s an extravagant player, obviously. He tries a lot of different shots, a lot of unstandard decisions,” Dimitrov said.

No. 6 Milos Raonic restored order, firing 13 aces and losing just eight points on his serve in defeating Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4.

“As well as I got the numbers on my serve, I felt I could serve better,” said the Thornhill, Ont. native. “I was really just trying to, especially being the first match of the tournament, hone in on getting my serve, getting my returns, and trying to find that short ball.”

Alexandr Dolgopolov, who made the semis here last year, beat No. 29 Santiago Giraldo 6-1, 7-6 (4). Qualifier Michael Berrer advanced when No. 22 Richard Gasquet retired trailing 3-1 in the third set.

Other winners were No. 27 Lukas Rosol and No. 30 Andreas Seppi.

On the women’s side, Heather Watson upset seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-4, and Elina Svitolina knocked out 10th-seeded Lucie Safarova 7-6 (5), 7-5.

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