Thank you for joining me for this match here on VAVEL. I hope you enjoyed it. The recap will be posted shortly by VAVEL's very own Pete Borkowski. This is Max Gao, signing off. Bye for now.
Final thoughts: Overall, it was a fantastic performance from Williams. Apart from a scratchy start, she looked mightily impressive, taking complete control of the match early on and never really letting Halep feel comfortable throughout. Though the defending champion put up a stern fight in both sets, the world number one proved why she is head and shoulders above the rest of the WTA, showcasing her power and precision for all to see in this 68-minute encounter. Going forward, Williams will look to continue her momentum against Radwanska, who has had a very impressive start to the season. Having met less than two months ago at the Australian Open, both women will be well aware of the dangers the other is capable of bringing to the table, which should make for a fascinating encounter.
Williams was full of praise for Halep in her post-match interview, saying she's been the best and beaten the best, but sounds mightily relieved to be through in straight sets.
Trademark finish from Williams, sealing it with her seventh ace. She wins 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and eight minutes. She will play third seed and newly crowned world number two Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi final.
40-15: Another big serve and Williams has two match points.
30-15: Big serve from the world number one followed up with a big forehand drive volley winner. She has hit those well tonight.
15-15: Williams overcooks a routine shot.
15-0: Halep misses a cross court return.
Halep holds at love! Williams will serve for it up 6-4, 5-3.
40-0: And another error off the return from Williams gives Halep three game points.
30-0: Williams nets another return.
15-0: Williams nets a forehand down the line.
Sixth ace from the world number one seals the game and puts her up a set and 5-2. It's a long way back from here for the defending champion now...
40-30: The Romanian just misses a backhand. You feel that she HAS to make those kinds of shots if she is to muster a comeback here.
30-30: Williams misses a backhand down the line. Half a chance for Halep to get the break straight back...
30-15: Fifth ace from the American.
15-15: Williams overcooks a forehand cross court.
15-0: Another nice one-two punch combination from Williams.
Halep double faults away the game to hand Williams the first break of the set. The world number one now a set and 4-2 to the good.
30-40: Halep runs down a drop shot but nets the response. Break point, Williams.
30-30: Fierce return from Williams. Nothing Halep could do there.
30-15: Halep just misses a forehand down the line; she is doing a great job of neutralizing Serena's positioning right now.
30-0: Williams just misses a cross court forehand. It is evident she wants to keep these rallies as short as possible.
15-0: Forehand return unforced error from the American to open the game.
Cahill told Halep to focus on her game because she felt she couldn't do anything more to attack Williams.
Darren Cahill back on court for coaching for Halep.
Great point construction from Williams as she holds with a big forehand drive volley winner. 3-2.
40-0: Great point construction for the American, sending the Romanian from side-to-side before forcing a forehand error.
30-0: Halep just misses a backhand down the line.
15-0: Williams with an impressive and emphatic smash to open the game.
Halep sticks to her guns and puts away an easy forehand to hold for 2-2.
40-30: Scorching return from the world number one forces an error out of the world number five on the first one.
40-15: Williams nets a forehand to give Halep two game points.
30-15: Williams misses the mark with a forehand return cross court.
15-15: The netcord favours Williams and gives her the chance to hit a scorching backhand passing shot past Halep, which she took without hesitation.
15-0: First point of the game goes to the Romanian.
No mistake this time as Williams hits a scorching inside out backhand winner to seal the game. She leads by a set and 2-1.
40-15: Williams nets an inside out forehand; she let it drop too much.
40-0: Wonderful one-two punch from Williams to give herself three game points. Apart from a scratchy start, she has looked impressive from the service line so far.
30-0: Backhand squash shot from the Romanian drifts into the tramlines.
15-0: Forehand unforced error off the return from Halep.
Three errors off the return from the world number one and the defending champion holds! 1-1.
40-0: Great serve from Halep forces another error out of Williams. Three game points for the Romanian.
30-0: Williams misses a return.
15-0: Williams JUST misses the mark with a backhand down the line.
Halep overcooks a backhand and Williams holds to begin the second set. 1-0.
40-30: Williams hits a backhand into the tramlines.
40-15: Big forehand winner from Halep. She will need to take every opportunity she gets to dictate from this point on.
40-0: Fourth ace of the match from the American.
30-0: Big unreturnable serve from Williams.
15-0: Big forehand winner down the line from Williams to begin the second set.
In the end, Williams' power proves to be too much as the American forces a backhand error out of Halep to convert her third set point and take the opening set 6-4 in 39 minutes.
30-40: OH YES! Halep hits a scorching forehand cross court to save the second set point; one to go.
15-40: Much better from the defending champion -- she pushed the world number one behind the baseline and followed it up with a big backhand winner down the line.
0-40: Halep double faults at a very untimely time to give Williams three set points.
0-30: Big return from Williams forces the error out of Halep. The world number one now just two points away from the set.
0-15: Halep misses a cross court forehand.
The defending champion breaks back! Halep catches Williams off guard with a big forehand down the line to force a backhand error out of the American and consequently recover the break. She will serve to stay in the set, trailing 4-5.
30-40: Forehand forced error from the Romanian erases the first one; not much she could have done to counter that beautiful cross court error from the American.
15-40: And just like that, Halep forces a backhand error out of Williams to give herself two break points.
15-30: Another unforced error off the forehand from Williams gives Halep half a chance to recover the break.
15-15: Williams overcooks a forehand down the line.
15-0: Big serve from the world number one to open the game.
Halep holds. Williams leads 5-3.
40-30: Huge forehand return winner from Williams; Halep neeeds to get that serve out wide just right or that will happen frequently.
40-15: Forehand unforced error from Halep.
40-0: The American misses another return to give the Romanian three game points.
30-0: Williams nets a forehand.
15-0: Glorius forehand winner from the Romanian. She is already using Cahill's advice.
Coaching visit from Darren Cahill for Halep seven games into the match. He told her to hit more forehands cross court and to start every game with a serve out wide to the forehand; she does not need to redirect the pace so early in the rally. He also wants her to break Williams' forehand down, knowing that it's her weaker wing.
WOW! Williams hits a third ace in a row to take a 5-2 lead.
40-0: Another ace from Williams puts her up triple game point.
30-0: First ace of the match from Williams.
15-0: Halep just misses a return.
Third game in a row for the world number one as she breaks courtesy of another error off the forehand from the world number five. Williams leads 4-2, first set.
40-AD: Great inside out forehand drive volley winner from Williams gives her a third break point.
40-40: This time, it's Halep who nets the easy forehand putaway. Deuce number three coming up.
AD-40: First ace of the match for the Romanian gives her another game point.
40-40: Huge backhand from Williams forces an error out of Halep. Back to deuce.
AD-40: Williams nets another return. Game point, Halep.
40-40: Excellent get from Williams but she is unable to put away the easy forehand. Back to deuce.
30-40: Williams misses a return on the first.
15-40: Trademark stuff from the world number one with the massive return. Two break points to break once more.
15-30: Williams is definitely targeting the Halep forehand, the Romanian's weaker wing, and forces another error out of it.
15-15: Halep nets a forehand.
15-0: Williams just misses a forehand return.
The Romanian fans are out in full force tonight. Chants of "SI-MO-NA" can be heard all over the stadium every few points.
Williams holds to lead 3-2.
40-15: Halep overcooks a backhand return off the second serve to give Williams two game points.
30-15: Big unreturnable serve out wide from Williams.
15-15: First double fault of the match from Williams.
15-0: Beautiful forehand cross court to set up an easy forehand putaway for Williams into acres of court. She has definitely come to play tonight.
Williams breaks straight back as a netcord goes the way of the world number one. 2-2.
40-AD: Halep is living dangerously with that second serve, and Williams is all over it. Break point number two for the American.
40-40: Unforced error from Williams pushes the game to deuce.
30-40: Too good from Serena -- excellent shot production in that last point to set up an easy forehand winner.
30-30: Williams' cross-court backhand misses the mark.
15-30: Intelligent play from Williams; forces Halep to go on the stretch and decides to hit back behind her once she has commited to running to one side.
15-15: Beautiful backhand passing shot from the fifth seed.
0-15: Big, emphatic backhand return winner to open the game from the world number one.
Halep breaks as Williams lets another loose unforced error fly off her racquet. The Romanian leads 2-1, first set.
15-40: Wild forehand from Williams does indeed give Halep two break points. The world number one's footwork just isn't there so far tonight.
15-30: Backhand unforced error from Williams gives Halep half a chance to get that first break.
15-15: Halep hits a high topspin lob that Williams opted to leave, lands in.
15-0: Nice one-two punch from Williams; she will be looking to do that more often tonight.
Halep holds. 1-1.
40-30: Williams nets a backhand return. Halep desperately needs to make a lot of first serves if she is to have any success from the receiving end.
30-30: Great defense from the Romanian catches the American off guard; Williams nets a forehand.
15-30: Halep just misses the mark with a cross court backhand.
15-15: Williams just overcooks a backhand return.
0-15: Halep nets a forehand.
Williams holds at love as Halep nets a backhand return. 1-0.
40-0: Early statement of intent from the world number one with a big backhand winner down the line.
30-0: Halep nets a forehand pass.
15-0: Big forehand drive volley winner from Williams to start.
Players are now on court for their warm-up! Williams won the toss and elected to serve.
Here's a preview of the match by VAVEL's very own Oliver Dickson Jefford.
For Halep, she will need to serve exceptionally well, while looking to take the initiative and dictate as many points as possible. She does not want to be put on the defensive for too long because that is a recipe for disaster against any top player, let alone the number one player in the world. In some aspects, the Romanian will also hope Williams has a litte bit of an off day because if the American is at her best, there is little you can do -- as an opponent -- to keep in touch with her. In each of her three defeats in 2015, it is fair to say Serena was far from her best, and that was what Petra Kvitova, Belinda Bencic and Roberta Vinci were able to use to their advantage.
For Williams, it is pretty much self-explanatory at this stage of her career. Her power and acute tactical awareness have been the biggest reason why she is regarded as one of, if not the greatest player to ever swing a racquet. Against Halep, the world number one will need to get the first strike time and again more than ever because the world number five's world-class defensive skills paired with her abilities to dictate from the back of the court can be a recipe for trouble if you're her opponent. In addition, the 34-year-old must utilize her serve and the angles of the court to put Halep on the defensive, which would thus give her the opportunity to open up the court and dictate right from the off.
Williams and Halep have met seven times before, with the former owning an overwhelming 6-1 head-to-head record against the latter. However, the Romanian was able to push the American to the limit in both of their 2015 meetings, and even handed the 21-time Grand Slam champion her worst loss in more than a decade at the 2014 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. With the sheer contrast in playing styles and the consistent quality of play that both women are consistently able to bring to the table, it will be fascinating to see who will gain the upper end this time around.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Romanian had the easiest road to the quarter finals, only needing to play one set after her opponent Barbora Strycova was forced to retire due to an upper respiratory illness that she had picked up a couple days prior.
In the following round, Halep met old foe Ekaterina Makarova, a player the former world number two has always struggled against. But this time around, Halep was sharp in all departments, barely putting a foot wrong in an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory over the Russian.
The fifth seed kicked off her campaign against a resurgent Vania King, whom she defeated in 55 minutes, at the loss of just two games.
Simona Halep, in contrast, has had a frustrating start to the year (by her standards). After being forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International and losing in the semi finals of the Apia International, Halep came into the Australian Open with minimal match preparation, eventually crashing out to an inspired Zhang Shuai in the first round -- Halep's second first round loss at a slam in two of the last three slams. After disappointing and early exits in both Dubai and Doha -- two tournaments she has won in the past, the Romanian came into Indian Wells with low expectations, but looked in fine form in all three of her matches this week.
On Tuesday, Williams overcame a few frustrating moments in her fourth round clash with Kateryna Bondarenko, eventually easing past the Ukrainian 6-2, 6-2, in a match that was a lot closer than the score line might suggest.
In the following round, the 34-year-old met the feisty Yulia Putintseva, who also trains at Serena's coach Patrick Mouratoglou's tennis academy. With Putintseva throwing everything at Williams, the world number one was forced to dig deep in the opening set, coming back from a break down on multiple occasions to win the first set in a tiebreak. From there, it was all Williams as she shifted into a new gear and never really looked back, winning 7-6(2), 6-0 to book her place in the last 16.
Twelve months on, in her return to action since losing in the 2016 Australian Open final, the world number one has looked mightily impressive in her campaign for a third title in the Californian desert. After a one-month layoff, Williams returned to action against Laura Siegemund, whom she easily dispatched in 63 minutes.
A little over twelve months ago, Williams made an emotional return to Indian Wells in front of an endearing Stadium 1 crowd, who knew how special it was to have the world number one back in the Californian desert. In brief, Williams ended a 14-year boycott amid claims of racism after she and her family were booed by a predominantly white crowd in the 2001 final, where Serena went on to defeat longtime rival Kim Clijsters in three sets. Though she was not able to walk away with the trophy last year as she was forced to withdraw from her semifinal match, Williams' return to Indian Wells showed great tenacity and courage, given all she had to endure in that 2001 final.
Hello everyone! My name is Max Gao, and I am happy to be bringing you point-by-point coverage of the 2016 BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal between Serena Williams and Simona Halep here on VAVEL. From now until the match begins at 7 PM PST or 10 PM EST, news and notes will be above to get you up to speed. Be sure to return at match time for point-by-point updates!