Serena Williams tops Zarina Diyas in 53 minutes at Indians Wells
Serena Williams is settling right into the BNP Paribas Open, producing a quick, business-like effort in advancing to the fourth round Sunday while enjoying her return after a 14-year absence.
She beat up-and-comer Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-0 in 53 minutes, a routine affair compared to the emotional roller coaster she rode Friday night after walking onto stadium court for the first time since being driven away by a hail of boos as a teenager in 2001.
"It definitely felt back to normal out there," Williams said. "It feels really special. I feel really glad to be here and still be in the tournament."
Four-time Indian Wells winner Roger Federer needed 10 more minutes than Williams to dispatch Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 in the men’s second round. Federer hit a 122 mph ace to set up match point and blasted a forehand winner to end it, leaving him two shy of 50 career wins in the desert.
"I’m moving well, which is key on this surface because the easy shots and easy points are not going to happen so easily here like they maybe do in Dubai or Australia or the indoor season," Federer said. "I was successful playing on my terms. There are certain things I can do better, but for a first round it’s a good start."
Three-time champion Rafael Nadal could say the same thing, winning 6-4, 6-2 over Igor Sijsling. Nadal dominated their baseline rallies in his opening match of the two-week tournament.
"I moved myself a little bit quicker tonight than what I was doing one month ago," Nadal said. "I was able to defend some points well, to have some good passing shots, have some winners, some good shots down the line with my forehand. That always gives me a lot of confidence."
Third-seeded Simona Halep needed three sets to beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. Lepchenko had 56 unforced errors to 37 for Halep.
Playing in the 91-degree heat of an unusually warm desert afternoon, Williams was bathed in applause by the half-full stadium court crowd. 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.
"I was able to relax because I was able to do more of the right things and not make as many mistakes as I did in my last round," she said.
Williams extended her current winning streak to 13 matches in her first tournament since winning her 19th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.
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. She committed 27 unforced errors to 20 for Williams, who converted six of 12 break points.
Next up for Williams is Sloane Stephens, who beat two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4.
"I was running down a lot of balls, making her play a lot of shots," Stephens said. "I was trying to be aggressive."
Federer next plays Andreas Seppi in a rematch of their Australian Open, when Seppi stunned Federer in four sets in the third round. Seppi advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Victor Hanescu.
"I’m happy I’m getting an opportunity to play him right away again," Federer said.
Donald Young led a parade of upsets earlier in the day, with the American beating 31st-seeded Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-2.
The highest men’s seed to go down was No. 7 Stan Wawrinka, who lost to Robin Haase 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Young equaled his best result at Indian Wells, reaching the third round for the third time.
"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," he 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 2 hours.
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.
Alexandr Dolgopolov, who made the semifinals 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. American Jack Sock outlasted 33rd-seeded Gilles Muller 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7), saving a match point in the process.
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," Raonic said. "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."
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. No. 8 Ekaterina Makarova was beaten by 27th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.