INDIAN WELLS (AFP) – Top seed Serena Williams stepped up her comeback from a 14-year Indian Wells boycott by storming into the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-0 demolition of error-prone Zarina Diyas on Sunday.
The 33-year-old American will face either compatriot Sloane Stephens or two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the next round in the two-week hardcourt tournament in the California desert.
World number one Williams needed just 53 minutes to dismiss Diyas, blasting six aces and breaking the world number 32 six times in front of a crowd of 10,500 at the Tennis Garden stadium.
“This is going in the right direction,” Williams said. “I was able to be a little more consistent today. I feel glad to still be in the tournament.”
Diyas had seven double faults and committed a rash of unforced errors, especially in the final game, when she had three in a row to bow out in calamitous fashion.
Williams is playing in her first tournament since winning a sixth Australian Open crown and a 19th Grand Slam title in January. At 33 years 127 days, she became the second oldest Grand Slam winner of the Open Era after Martina Navratilova at the 1990 Wimbledon.
The American looked more relaxed against Diyas than she did in her first match on Friday when she survived a tough contest against the versatile Monica Niculescu for a 7-5, 7-5 victory.
Williams won the Indian Wells crown in 1999 at age 17 and again in 2001 when she rallied to beat Kim Clijsters in the final 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 after a controversial walkover when Venus Williams pulled out of the sisters semi-final at the last minute with an injury.
Serena said earlier in the week that she is trying to forget the events of 2001, when the then 19-year-old was booed during the Clijsters final. Some fans had accused her of rigging matches against her sister.
Last year s Indian Wells runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska became the first big name to fall in the women s field, as the seventh seed lost 6-4, 6-4 to Britain s Heather Watson.
In men s action Sunday, Canadian sixth seed Milos Raonic beat Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4; Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria outlasted Australia s Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 7-6 (7/4) and Robin Haase defeated Swiss seventh seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.