INDIAN WELLS (US), March 14 - World number one Serena Williams stepped up her bid for her first Indian Wells title in 15 years with a straight set victory over Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.
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 in one hour, 15 minutes, late on Sunday.
�The first set was a little tricky, then I had to find my inner tiger, and roar,� Williams said.
Williams moves on to the fourth round of the hardcourt tournament where she will face Kateryna Bondarenko who defeated Lesia Tsurenko 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) earlier on Sunday.
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 semifinal match with a knee injury.
Williams, who won the event in 1999 and 2001, returned to the tournament last year, ending a 14-year boycott which began after she beat Kim Clijsters in the 2001 final.
That year spectators at Indian Wells booed Serena during the final and jeered her sister and father Richard Williams in the stands.
As the top seed and a 21 Grand Slam title winner, she�s the clear favourite this week.
Her quest was boosted on Saturday with the elimination of two of the top five seeds in the women�s draw, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza.
Although Williams got off to another slow start on Sunday but she closed out in style with an ace on match point. � AP