After two tough opening matches at Indian Wells, Monday was a little easier day for tennis legend Venus Williams. The 38-year-old needed just two sets to send home fellow American Christina McHale 6-2, 7-5.
Venus was down early breaks in both sets to the New Jersey native who led 5-3 in the second before the 7-time Grand Slam champion won the last four games.
“I never played [McHale], so it’s also, you’re out there learning what they do well, what shots they select,” Venus. “At [3-5 in the second set], I’m, like, ‘Okay, I understand.’ And I felt comfortable with trying to control the point from there.”
Venus gets no day off as she returns to take on German Mona Barthel who earlier in the event shocked Madison Keys.
“I have played [Barthel] a few times,” said Williams, who leads their head-to-head 3-0. “Not recently, but it’s definitely a different match. I feel definitely more comfortable going into that match than, for example, today. I had never played [McHale] before, so you feel like you don’t really know what’s going to happen.
“At least tomorrow I’ll walk out on the court knowing what to expect, having played her, and then adjust as the match goes on.”
In the evening, Naomi Osaka beat the rains and beat Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2 to keep her title defense going. Osaka will now face the resurgent Swiss Belinda Bencic today.
Big-hitting Aryna Sabalenka blasted past Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 7-5.
Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber also advanced to the last 16. And Anett Kontaveit got a retirement from Anastasija Sevastova.
Pliskova now gets Kontaviet while Kerber collides with Sabalenka in a tantalizing first-time meeting.
“I’ve never played against Kerber before, so I will talk with Dmitry tonight,” she said. “But she’s another great player, and for sure it will be a not easy match.
“I’m just waiting for it, I like to play against everyone. I like to fight, I like this game. It doesn’t matter against who.”
Today’s line-up features all eight fourth round matches, and that includes Muguruza-Bertens, Barty-Svitolina and more.
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