Top seeds Serena, Djokovic move on at In­dian Wells

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

World No. 1s No­vak Djokovic and Serena Wil­liams had to dig deep at In­dian Wells on Sun­day to fend off a pair of un­her­alded but spir­ited op­po­nents. Serena stepped up her bid for her first In­dian Wells ti­tle in 15 years with a straight-set 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 vic­tory over 56thranked Yu­lia Putint­seva.

Djokovic dropped the first set be­fore com­ing from be­hind to book his third-round spot in the ATP and WTA hard­court tour­na­ment with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 vic­tory over 149th-ranked qual­i­fier Bjorn Fratan­gelo. In the evening ses­sion, reign­ing cham­pion Si­mona Halep steam­rollered Eka­te­rina Makarova 6-2, 6-4 to get her ti­tle de­fence off to a fly­ing start. The two-time In­dian Wells cham­pion Serena had a dif­fi­cult time with Putint­seva in the open­ing set but then breezed through the se­cond to wrap up the win in one hour, 15 min­utes.

"The first set was a lit­tle tricky, then I had to find my in­ner tiger... and roar," said Serena, who booked a fourth-round clash with Kateryna Bon­darenko. Serena has a chance to be­come the first three-time win­ner in women's sin­gles at In­dian Wells, a feat she failed to achieve last year when she was forced to with­draw from her semi-fi­nal with a knee in­jury.

Serena, who won the event in 1999 and 2001, re­turned to the tour­na­ment last year, end- ing a 14-year boy­cott, which be­gan af­ter she beat Kim Cli­jsters in the 2001 fi­nal.

That year spectators at In­dian Wells booed Serena dur­ing the fi­nal and jeered her sis­ter, Venus, and father Richard Wil­liams when the pair ar­rived to watch the match. Richard Wil­liams al­leges that racists com­ments were di­rected at them. As the top seed and a 21 Grand Slam cham­pion, Serena is the clear favourite this week.

And her quest was boosted with the early elim­i­na­tion of two of the top five seeds in the women's draw, An­gelique Kerber and Gar­bine Mugu­ruza. Al­though Serena got off to a poor start on Sun­day, she closed out the con­test in style with an ace on match point.

"I was just try­ing to find my rhythm out there, try­ing my best to not get off to a slow start," she said. "Just try­ing to fight."

The de­fend­ing two-time men's champ Djokovic has now won 12 con­sec­u­tive matches in In­dian Wells and is seek­ing to be­come the first player in tour­na­ment his­tory to claim five ti­tles. Djokovic won 78 per cent of his first serve points, made three dou­ble faults and had his serve bro­ken three times in­clud­ing twice in the first three games. He re­turned the favour in the de­cid­ing third set by break­ing Fratan­gelo in games one, five and seven. "All in all, it was just not a great per­for­mance," Djokovic said. "But you have to deal with it, ac­cept it.

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