Seeds may have fallen early but the projected quarterfinals held up in the top half. No.1 Serena Williams cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kateryna Bondarenko, while No.5 and defending champion Simona Halep advanced via a retirement from an ill Barbora Strycova, who pulled the plug down 6-3, 1-0. The two will face off for the first time since the 2015 Western & Southern Open final, which Serena won 6-3, 7-6(5). It will be the first real test for both women, as they’ve cruised through the early rounds without dropping a set.
“I really like her game,” Serena said. “I like how she’s aggressive. She’s a fighter. She killed me at one point, so I definitely have to be ready. It’ll be a really good match I think for both of us to kind of see where we want to be at this point in the year.”
“I’m happy that I am again in the quarterfinals,” Halep said. On Wednesday she’ll be playing her biggest quarterfinal since the US Open. Finally healthy after an injury and illness addled start to the season, Halep has found some of her best tennis in a long time here in the desert.
“I feel good here. I started to feel my game. I started to feel very well on court. I move well. It’s the most important thing. Of course the matches, it’s important to win a match, but it’s better to feel that you are like strong on court and then to think about winning a match.”