Illness ends Serena’s Indian Wells hopes
She retires as Muguruza leads 6-3, 1-0 in battle of former No. 1s
Serena Williams' first tournament since the Australian Open came to an abrupt end yesterday morning (Singapore time), as the ailing 23-time Grand Slam champion retired from her third-round match against Garbine Muguruza at Indian Wells.
Muguruza was leading 6-3, 1-0 when Williams called it a day in the battle of former world No. 1s because of a viral illness.
"Before the match, I did not feel great and then it just got worse with every second; extreme dizziness and extreme fatigue," Williams said in comments released via tournament organisers.
The 10th-seeded American, continuing to work her way back up the rankings in the wake of time off to have a baby, had made a strong start, winning the first three games.
But she called for the trainer after dropping six straight.
After a long talk with medical personnel, Williams took the court for the second set but, after Muguruza held serve at love, Williams called a halt.
"By the score, it might have looked like I started well, but I was not feeling at all well physically," Williams said.
"I will focus on getting better and start preparing for Miami."
It was the sixth meeting between Muguruza and Williams, all the earlier five coming in Grand Slams.
The last two of those were in finals, with Williams beating the Spaniard for the Wimbledon title in 2015 and Muguruza taking the 2016 French Open crown.
It was a tough draw for Williams, who defeated former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka in her second-round opener.
Muguruza was sorry to see it end the way it did.
"We've played many times and it's always super tough, super exciting," she said.
"I wish I'm going to see her soon and feeling better," added the Spaniard, who advanced to a fourth-round clash with seventh-seeded Kiki Bertens of Holland, a 7-6 (12/10), 6-4 winner over Britain's Johanna Konta.
World No.2 Simona Halep had her hands full with Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova, but emerged with a 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 victory in her first meeting with the 114th-ranked player.
"It was really difficult against her because I never played against her - it was a bit difficult to get a rhythm," Halep said.
Halep next faces 61st-ranked Czech Marketa Vondrousova, who followed up her win over 2018 finalist Daria Kasatkina with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over 22nd seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.
Sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina also advanced, holding of Australian Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-4.
Meanwhile, in the men's draw, world No. 2 Rafael Nadal raced into the third round as Roger Federer made a less speedy but still successful start to his quest for a sixth title.
Nadal, a three-time Indian Wells winner, needed just 72 minutes to get past overawed Jared Donaldson, 6-1, 6-1.
Federer, who is seeking to break out of a tie with top seed Novak Djokovic for most titles in the California desert, looked set for a similarly easy time of it, but had to turn back a second-set challenge from German Peter Gojowczyk in a 6-1, 7-5 win.
"I struggled a little bit with my serving in that second set and that gave him chances. Because he was serving better, he started to swing more freely and then it was tough," Federer said.
"I'm really happy I found a way in that second set."
Federer next faces compatriot Stan Wawrinka, while Nadal will come up against Diego Schwartzman. - AFP, REUTERS