WTA Miami: Serena Williams Struggles Past Zarina Diyas

Serena Williams wins her 20th straight match at the Miami Open after a sloppy victory over Zarina Diyas, 7-5, 6-3.

Williams Takes The Up And Down First Set

Serena Williams and Zarina Diyas had played one time previous to their third round match. Their only meeting happened just over a year ago in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, where Williams dominated from all spectrums in a 6-2, 6-0 triumph. The match started in similar fashion as the world number one was the first to break.

But Williams failed to consolidate despite holding a 40-15 lead. Diyas’ serve allowed the eight-time champion to start on an offensive note on the return. Serena was able to break back to love. On the changeover at 2-1, Williams and the chair umpire exchanged words over an apparent issue but it did not affect the American as she held for the first time with an ace.

The American looked strong up 3-1, but the feisty Zarina Diyas closed the gap by holding for her first time. In the game to follow, the Kazakh was all over the William’s second serve, but she over played causing errors to seep into her game. Diyas, the world number 97, kept the set within reach with a hold to make it 4-3 in her opponent’s favor. In the next game, despite going down 0-30, the eight-time Miami Open champion made a crucial hold for 5-3.

Williams seemed to be cruising along playing error-filled, lazy tennis. Zarina Diyas handled her nerves to force the American to serve for the set after three unforced errors off the William’s racquet and a Diyas ace. The world number one failed to close out the set as her Kazakh opponent took her first opportunity to break in the game. At five games all, the set appeared to be slipping away from Williams.

But, Serena Williams is known for being able to win without her best tennis. The American broke back on her second break point to serve for the set at 6-5. On Williams’ first set point, her world number 97 opponent sailed a forehand wide which resulted in a hold to 15 and the first set for the American.

Serena Williams celebrates a point over Diyas. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Serena Williams celebrates a point over Diyas. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Streaky Second Set Concludes Match

The intensity of the defending champion sparked in the beginning of the second set. Williams was quick to break following the 48 minute first set. The American consolidated for her fourth straight game as she led 7-5, 2-0. Errors continued to spring off the Diyas’ racquet which resulted in another break of serve. The 21-time grand slam champion extended her set lead to 4-0 with a shaky hold. Time seemed to have run out for the Kazakh 22-year-old.

But Zarina Diyas refused to be bageled as she held thanks to a rigid string of points from her opponent. In the 18th game of the match, Williams went down a quick 15-40 before getting the game back to deuce. She had a chance for a commanding set and 5-1 lead, but back-to-back double faults and a netted forehand resulted in a break for the world number 97. Diyas took her seventh straight point to close the gap to 4-3.

The American was not going to squander yet another lead as she did in her second round. Williams held to 30 to put herself within one game of the fourth round. On Williams’ first point for the match, a Diyas backhand slid wide to give the American yet another triumph in the Florida sun.

What Is Next?

Serena Williams will face Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round on Monday. The American leads the Russian 8-2 in their previous meetings. Williams will need to play a step above how she played against Diyas if she sees herself advancing into the quarterfinals.