Williams siblings set up Indian Wells sister showdown






Indian Wells, California (dpa) - Serena Williams continued her comeback six months after giving birth, as Roger Federer was stopped in his tracks by some freak weather on Saturday at the Indian Wells Masters.

Williams, 36, dispatched her second straight opponent as she steps out on the Tour for the first time in more than a year, beating Kiki Bertens 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 in the Californian desert.



 
But Williams showed some creaky play at times, missing a chance to serve it out at her first attempt and coming from two break points down on her second to finally secure the win in 1 hour, 52 minutes.
"I'm getting there but I have a long way to go," Williams said after her match. "It definitely felt better than the first round.
"I'm still a little rusty. I'm still making errors that I don't normally make.
"But I call this a trial run, like a trial run of travelling with the baby; all of this is just so new to me."
Eighth-seeded elder sister Venus also defeat Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday.
The Williams sisters will now meet in the third round, with the pair last facing off in the final of the 2017 Australian Open - the last event for then pregnant Serena - who also won that title over her sister.
In 2001, the two had been scheduled for what turned into a controversial semi-final at Indian Wells' Tennis Garden which ended in a walkover for Serena when Venus could not play due to injury.
"She's playing really well and just honing her game. When she's missing, it's not by much," Venus said of Serena. "Obviously I have to play better than her and see how the match goes.
"She looks like she never lost a step. I'm really just trying to see what happens. That's it."
Also on Saturday, second seed Caroline Wozniacki advanced past Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 6-1, while fourth seed Elina Svitolina advanced past German Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-3 and American Danielle Collins eliminated US Open finalist Madison Keys 6-3, 7-6 (7-1).
German 12th seed Julia Goerges also defeated Russia's Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-4, 6-1 and Australian Daria Gavrilova beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.
In men's play, Roger Federer's title defence got off to a stuttering start, with the new world number one forced off court in the second set of his opening match due to a rare burst of desert rain.
The 36-year-old was leading Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-3, 2-2 when the weather moved in. A wait of more than an hour failed to bring any change in the situation, with players sent to the locker room before tournament director Tommy Haas and ATP organizers made the call to abandon for the night.
Federer, a perfect 12-0 this season, is facing a journeyman who defeated him in a previous meeting in Hamburg five years ago.
The winner of Melbourne and Rotterdam titles this season is seeking to repeat as champion at the Tennis Garden for the second year in succession and sixth time overall.
Meanwhile, fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov fell to Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3. The Spaniard said after the match that he was "super happy" to grab the win.
"What can I say? I'm just going to enjoy the victory and try to keep it going," he said.
Also on Saturday, Dominic Thiem survived an upset assault by promising Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the Austrian fifth seed earning a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 second-round win.
The 19-year-old challenger, who reached a career-high 71st ranking this week, missed out on his second career top 10 win after beating Number 10 David Goffin in October in Antwerp. 
Thiem has the most wins on the ATP tour this calendar year, claiming his 17th victory in just under two hours, with 10 aces and four breaks of his opponent. He next faces Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas, who beat Canadian prodigy Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
Earlier, Tomas Berdych, seeded 12th, booked the first of the third-round spots as he hammered German Maximillian Marterer 6-1, 6-4. 

Sunday, March 11th 2018
By Bill Scott, dpa
           


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