Halep and Williams cruising in Cali

Serena Williams and Simona Halep both sailed into the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in California on Tuesday after beating Kateryna Bondarenko and Barbora Strycova respectively.

However, both players will need to move out of auto-pilot for their next game as they are poised to play each other in what promises to be an entertaining spectacle.

Williams served up seven aces on her way to a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over Bondarenko.

“It definitely wasn’t an easy match,” Williams told Andrew Krasny during her on-court interview.

“She’s obviously been a good player in the past, and she knows how to play on big courts against big players. So, it was a good match for me.”

When asked about her upcoming showdown against defending champion Halep, Williams said she was looking forward to the contest and would be using it as a yardstick for the current state of her game.

“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 really like her game. I like how she’s aggressive. She’s a fighter. I definitely have to be ready.”

Halep moved a step closer to defending her title after Strycova retired due to an upper respiratory illness with the former leading 6-3, 1-0.

“I feel sorry for her, being sick,” she said during her on-court interview.

“I know how it is, and it’s tough to continue to play the match. It was a good start for me, I played a good first set.”

Looking ahead to her clash with the American world number one, Halep appeared quietly confident.

“I know she’s the best player in the world, so I have nothing to lose. I want just to go and fight for my chance. I know that I have a chance.

“I will go with confidence, positivity and just fighting for the match.”

In earlier women’s action, Polish third seed Agnieska Radwanska beat Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals where she will face world number nine Petra Kvitova who ended Nicole Gibbs’ tournament with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph.

Italian ninth seed Roberta Vinci retired from her match against unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova while trailing 2-6, 0-2.

Victoria Azarenka, Timea Bacsinszky and Karolina Pliskova were also winners on the day.