Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic fend off unheralded opponents to advance into next round
Indian Wells (USA): Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams had to dig deep at Indian Wells on Sunday to fend off a pair of unheralded but spirited opponents.
Surprise spectator: Mike Tyson (right) and his daughter Milan (left) meet Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells. Pics: Getty Images/AFP
Williams 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 56th-ranked 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.
The two-time Indian Wells champion Williams had a difficult time with Putintseva in the opening set but then steamrolled through the second to wrap up the win.
"The first set was a little tricky, then I had to find my inner tiger, and roar," said Williams, who booked a fourth-round clash with Kateryna Bondarenko.
Williams 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.
Off to a poor start
Although Williams got off to a poor start, she closed out the contest in style with an ace on match point.
Serena Williams reacts during her third round singles match against Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva at the Indian Wells tennis tournament in California on Sunday
"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.
"All in all, it was just not a great performance," Djokovic said.
"But you have to deal with it, accept it. A win is a win. Hopefully the next one will be better."