Simona Halep calls Serena Williams still the world's best player

Paola Ditto
Marzo 14, 2018

Serena Williams should have been given top seeding at Indian Wells on her return from the birth of her daughter, says world number one Simona Halep.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion and the most successful player of the Open era, was knocked out by her sister Venus in round three in California.

The world number one emerged on top of a tight first set and rolled through the second over the course of a 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Wang on Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Halep will next face unseeded Petra Martic of Croatia who beat Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Halep needs to reach the final at the Tennis Garden to hang onto her top WTA ranking against a charge from Australian Open victor and formerly top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.

"She outsmarted me today", Wozniacki said.

The 26-year-old Romanian showed no sign of the foot injury that forced her to withdraw from the Qatar Open last month and is well positioned to make a run at reclaiming the Indian Wells title she won in 2015.

The No.8 seed has yet to drop a set as she backed her first victory over Serena since 2014 with a 7-6 6-4 win over No.21 Anastasija Sevastova, bidding for sixth Top 10 win of career, who posted her best result here this year.

To reinforce their hopes, Venus has to beat Carla Suarez Navarro or wildcard Danielle Collins in the quarterfinals.

The turning point came after a string of unforced errors left Halep trailing 5-4 in the first set, prompting coach Darren Cahill to tell the defensive specialist to work longer points and reduce the error count.

She reached the quarter-finals for the fifth time at WTA Premier Mandatory level, the third in Indian Wells.

"I'm playing my best matches against the best players", she said.

Pliskova advances to the quarter-finals where she will face Naomi Osaka of Japan who beat unseeded Maria Sakkari 6-1, 5-7, 6-1.

Kasatkina improved to 11-6 on the WTA Tour season as she seeks to better her quarter-final appearance here in 2016.

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