Serena Williams celebrates her win over Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. (AFP)
Serena Williams won the clash between two of the hottest players on the WTA Tour with a straight-sets victory over Swiss Timea Bacsinszky at Indian Wells on Wednesday.
World number one Williams extended her match win streak to 15 by beating the red-hot Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3 on the Tennis Garden stadium court.
“She was on a winning streak, so I was like, ‘I hope I win tonight, because she hasn’t lost in a really long time,’” Williams said of Bacsinszky, who was came into the tournament off back-to-back WTA titles in Acapulco and Monterrey, Mexico.
Bacsinszky’s fourth round win over Elina Svitolina was her 15th consecutive match win, including Fed Cup play.
Williams now faces third seeded Simona Halep after the Romanian beat Spain’s Carla Suarez in three sets.
Williams is playing in her first tournament since winning a sixth Australian Open crown in January, her 19th Grand Slam title.
She is making a celebrated return to Indian Wells after being booed in the 2001 final. The hostile reception from the crowd resulted in Williams’ 14-year boycott of the Indian Wells event but she now says she is happy to be back.
Bacsinszky, 25, has had her own personal demons to deal with after a bitter parting from her father.
She said her dad pushed her into tennis so he could live his dream through her. She even quit the game for awhile, but her successful return has been one of the feel good stories on the WTA Tour this year. She has climbed the rankings and is now 27th in the world after being ranked 285th in 2013.
Williams got past her in one hour and 25 minutes. She belted seven aces but also had four double faults and said she needs to step up her game.
“I am happy to get through and still be alive in the tournament because clearly I haven’t been the Serena that we all know,” she said.
Halep came storming back from an opening set loss to beat Suarez 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 and advance to her second straight Indian Wells semi-final.
The 23-year-old said after Wednesday’s match that the most important thing is not how you start, but how you finish the match.
“It doesn’t matter if you lose the first set or second set,” Halep said. “You just have to continue the game and to continue to believe that you can still win.”
Halep has gone three sets in three of her four matches in Indian Wells. But she says she doesn’t mind the extra time on the court because it allows her to perfect her game.
“I expected to run a lot today and to have like a two or three hours to play,” Halep said.
“It is nice to be in the semi-finals two years in a row. Last year I had a good tournament and this year I can say I am playing better than last year. I am more confident and feeling the ball better. I am feeling better because I am dominating the matches in the end.”
Halep hit two aces, committed three double-faults and broke her opponent eight times in the close to two-hour match.
Williams leads Halep in their head-to-head series four game to one but the loss wasn’t that long ago. Halep beat her 6-0, 6-2 at the 2014 WTA Tour finals in Singapore. Williams got her revenge just a couple of days later, winning in straight sets in the final 6-3, 6-0.
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