Venus Williams beats sister Serena in Indian Wells

Venus Williams and Serena Williams

Venus Williams and Serena Williams

"I was feeling like he was not loving my slice and I was also mixing in dropshots", said Federer who extended his ideal record this season to 14-0. Serena fought back and scored a break to extend the match.

Venus will meet Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth round.

It is rare for the Williams sisters to play this early in a tournament. As always, the game was a match for the ages, and marked the earliest meeting between the sisters in the tournament since way, way back in 1998.

Serena won only half of her service points overall - it is much, much higher when her serve and game are working, even against Venus - and committed 31 unforced errors to go along with 22 winners.

Wozniacki said the court conditions were hard but she managed to make the adjustments. With a day to rest mentally and physically, Williams is the clear favorite in the match, especially on the hard courts of Indian Wells.

Simona Halep is on track to retain her No. 1 world ranking after defeating Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-1 in the fourth round.

Venus broke first and was up a break at 5-3 but Serena remained calm and saved two points before going on the force a tiebreak which she went on to win8-6. There were several rough stretches early in the first set where you might have thought that it would be easier for Williams to ease out of the match quietly and begin focus on her next tournament.

"That's going to be a huge story, maybe the story of the year", men's No 1 Roger Federer said of Serena's comeback.

To say Williams is back would be a rush to judgment for the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, who was playing her first competitive singles match since winning the 2017 Australian Open title last January.

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They arrived outside the stadium together on a golf cart then walked through the tunnel with Serena entering the court first, as many in the crowd stood and cheered.

The former world number one hit four aces but had her serve broken four times in a 6-3 6-4 loss in California.

"So, I just have a long way to go, and I'm looking forward to the journey".

Venus, speaking after the match, said it was hard for her to close the match as Serena's level was super high. "Serena came roaring back".

Asked if playing Monday brought closure to what happened in 2001, seven-time grand slam champion Venus replied: "It never crossed my mind". She looked like Serena most of the time.

Wozniacki challenged a call in the final game when the line judge ruled that Sasnovich's shot caught the line.

But she's a lot further along than anyone who saw her play Fed Cup doubles a month ago could have anticipated.

Awaiting Williams in the quarterfinals is 27th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who beat American wild card Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4.

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