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Indian Wells: Serena sets up showdown with sister Venus

Last updated on: March 11, 2018 12:52 IST

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams lunges to return a backhand to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. Photograph: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Serena Williams continued her comeback to tennis with a 7-6(5), 7-5 win over Kiki Bertens at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday, setting up a third-round encounter with her sister Venus.


Serena, who is returning to the sport after taking more than a year away to have a baby, was ragged at times but used her power to wear down the Dutch 29th seed in Indian Wells, California.

"She started out really strong," said 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena in a courtside interview. "I was (thinking) I've just got to keep going and do the best I can."

"I'm just happy to be out here. Everything is a bonus."

Venus moved into the third round by beating Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-4 in the preceding match.

It will be the earliest meeting between the two since their first professional match in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open. Monday's match will be the 29th between the pair, with Serena leading the head-to-head record 17-11.

Venus said it looked like her sister had never been away.

"She looked like she never lost a step," Venus said.

Also moving into the third round was defending champion Elena Vesnina, who beat American Catherine Bellis 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Danielle Collins beat fellow American and 15th seed Madison Keys 6-3, 7-6(1), Slovak 18th seed Magdalena Rybarikova fell to Russian teenager Sofya Zhuk 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, while Estonian 28th seed Anett Kontaveit lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-2, 6-4.

Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina avoided a similar demise, beating German Mona Barthel 6-, 6-3.

Verdasco upsets Dimitrov, Federer debut marred by rain

Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco used his powerful serve to upset third seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 at the BNP Paribas Open while Roger Federer's tournament debut was hampered by rain.

Verdasco's first serve proved nearly unplayable in the deciding set of the second round match as he improved his career head-to-head record against Dimitrov to 2-2.

The 34-old, who has seven career titles, pounded down 12 aces, including six in the deciding set.

Dimitrov won the ATP Finals in November, and three weeks ago lost to Federer in the final of the Rotterdam tournament.

The two-hour-plus match delayed the start of the evening session on centre court, where top seed Federer finally made his first appearance in the event, up against 67th-ranked Argentine Federico Delbonis.

The defending champion, at 36 the oldest men's world number one, took little time breaking left-hander Delbonis in the fourth game, and claimed the first set 6-3.

But rain, a rarity in the desert, stopped play at 2-2 in the second set.

Earlier, fifth seed Dominic Thiem narrowly avoided the same fate as Dimitrov, the Austrian edging hard-hitting Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Thiem has already won a tour-leading 17 matches this season, but he had to work hard to beat 19-year-old Tsitsipas, who reached the quarter-finals in Dubai last week and is ranked 71st in the world.

South African seventh seed Kevin Anderson also prevailed in his second round match, 7-5, 6-4 over Russian Evgeny Donskoy.

Seeded losers included Italian No. 16 Fabio Fognini, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 against Jeremy Chardy of France, and Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, hammered 6-0, 6-3 by young Croat Borna Coric.

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