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Serena sets up showdown with sister

13 March 2018

It will be their earliest match-up at a top-tier tournament since their first encounter, Venus downing Serena at the 1998 Australian Open in the second round.

The BNP Paribas Open is Serena's first singles WTA event since her pregnancy, and while she was able to win her first two matches in the tournament, her competition was apparently too strong in the third round.

Returning after more than a year away from the game to have a baby, Serena put up a good fight, saving match point while trailing 5-2 in the second set, but her rustiness told in the end. When she entered the court, she was given a loud ovation from the packed arena, with many in the stadium standing and applauding her third appearance in Indian Wells in the last 17 years.

But for now, the current rule stands and Serena, though she will have an official ranking next Monday, will continue to be the most unsafe unseeded outsider in women's tennis.

Asked about the semi-final match that never happened, Serena said she has tried to forget.

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Anastasija Sevastova, the 21st seed, beat 12th-seeded German Julia Goerges 6-3 6-3.

Barring any late surprises, the two will indeed square off for the 29th time Monday and Serena, now 36, did recall their first duel in Compton, the Los Angeles suburb about 130 miles west of Indian Wells where the siblings grew up.

Still showing some rust from her long layoff, Serena hit just one ace and made 37 unforced errors to 32 for Bertens. So if she makes a mistake, I just - a little bit of me dies.

Venus hadn't beaten Serena since the summer of 2014 in Canada, but she had to be considered the favorite in this one given the rustiness of her younger sister's game. After that, the sisters boycotted Indian Wells for 14 years. Below is all you need to know to watch on Monday.

The Indian Wells match was 17 years in the making. I mean, it's an incredible fascinating story, like you said. She emphatically closed out the 36-minute set with back-to-back aces that clocked 108 miles per hour and 120 miles per hour.

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She fell behind 3-1 early in the second set but rallied by holding serve in the fifth game.

"So it is what it is", said Serena.

"I really abhor every time we play, but I do enjoy the battle when I'm out there", Serena said last weekend. "I just want to do the best that I can".

Despite the loss Serena still leads their career series 17-12. "As long as I'm moving forward, even if it's at a turtle's pace, I'm OK with that".

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Serena sets up showdown with sister