WTA Indian Wells: Serena Williams Ends Simona Halep's Title Defence

Serena Williams advanced to the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open in relative ease on Wednesday, beating defending champion Simona Halep 6-4, 6-3.

Williams Battles Through Wild Opening Set

Despite being the massive underdog, it was the defending champion who got off to the quicker start. In the third game of the match, Halep brought up the first break point of the match against Williams’ serve, and converted for the early lead. It was a dream start for the Romanian.

But it would not last. Williams immediately broke back in the following game and held for a 3-2 lead. She then continued to build momentum when she broke Halep again, stretching her lead to 5-2 before the world number five finally held serve to end her opponent’s four-game run.

Photo: Robyn Beck/Getty Images
Photo: Robyn Beck/Getty Images

Halep would use the hold to turn the momentum back in her favour. Williams served for the set at 5-3, but the defending champion did not give her a chance to close it out, bringing up break points at 15-40. The American saved the first, but Halep was not to be denied as she forced an error to reclaim the break. But it was all for not. Williams would charge back, racing to a 0-40 lead in the next game, and broke to claim the opening set 6-4 in 38 minutes.

Strong Serving Send Williams Through

The second set followed a similar, although less dramatic script in the second set. There was no early exchange of breaks, although Williams would start to run away with the set at the same point. The world number one brought up a break opportunity at 3-2, 30-40, and was gifted the break when Halep double faulted. The American then stretched the lead to 5-2 once again.

Just like the first set, Halep would hold easily for 3-5 to give Williams an opportunity to serve out the set, and this time the match. This time around, Williams would make no mistake. The world number one held to fifteen to end Halep’s title bid in an hour and eight minutes, sealing the win with an ace.

By the Numbers

Williams was her normal dominant self on her first serve, winning 81% of those points. However, the American struggled on her second serve, losing one more point than she won. She only saved one out of three break points against her serve, although all three of those break points came in the second set. She did not allow a single break opportunity for Halep in the second set.

Halep did not have enough on serve to hang with Williams. She won 58% of her first serve points and 50% of her second serve points. She was broken four times in the match.

Williams’ quarterfinal will be a rematch of the Australian Open semifinals against Agnieszka Radwanska. The American won that match 6-0, 6-4.