(March 17, 2015) Serena Williams overcame 52 unforced errors and nine double faults to stop Sloane Stephens 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Stephens took a double break 3-0 lead in the opening set, and lost the advantage until the tiebreak, which she dominated 7-3.
“I think Sloane played really well in the first set,” Williams said. “Actually in the whole match. I just made a few errors, but I think she forced me to make those errors.”
The 19-time major champion rallied from dropping the first set in a tiebreak to dominate the final two sets.
From 1-2 down in the second set, Williams won 11 of the next 13 games.
The 33-year-old veteran Williams broke Stephens’ serve three times in the final set. The world No. 1 set up match point with a 128-mph ace and sealed the victory when Stephens netted a backhand.
“I thought I played a really solid first set,” said Stephens. “Obviously I was playing No. 1 player in the world so it was going to be a little tough. She played well in the second and third set.
“You know, you win some, you lose some. It was a good effort by me.”
“I had some chances and opportunities that I didn’t really capitalize on which I should have. Like I said, I was playing No. 1 player in the world. When you don’t take your chances, it could be a little tough.”
Despite only a 51 first serve percentage, Williams hit 14 aces during the match. Stephens hit 13 winners to 36 unforced errors with a 58 first serve percentage.
The two-time Indian Wells champion Williams has now raised her record against Stephens to 3-1, with her only loss coming in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open.
The world No 42, once as high as No 11 in the world, said she is building on her recent positive results: “definitely a good step in the right direction; looking forward to next week.
“I think I played really well my last three matches, and then today I felt I played really well. You know, I think it was just continuous flowing, and every day it’s getting better.
“So I’m happy with that.”
“I have always thought Sloane can be really great,” said Williams. “I think she’s on the right track. You know, she played really well. She had some very good wins here against two seeds.
“So, yeah, I thought it was a really positive result even today.”
Williams will play Timea Bacsinszky next.