Indian Wells: Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska cruise through
As boxing great Mike Tyson watched on, Williams punched below her weight in the first set, during which she made 29 unforced errors and had to break Putinsteva’s service to force a tiebreak.
The second set was not a fair fight, with business as usual resumed as Williams overwhelmed her opponent.
"I started to get more confidence to continue to go for it,” Williams told reporters, referring to her strong finish.
The 34-year-old American ended with seven aces and moved closer to her first title at Indian Wells since her infamous win in 2001, after which she boycotted the event until finally returning last year.
Serena was booed throughout the 2001 final by a crowd that assigned her the blame for the withdrawal by her sister Venus before their scheduled semi-final.
While Williams got a good workout on Sunday, world number three Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland barely raised a sweat as she continued her bid for a first Indian Wells crown by beating Monica Niculescu 6-2 6-1.
"I really want to have (this) trophy at my home," Radwanska told reporters. "This is one of the biggest tournaments (on tour). So this is another year to try."
Smooth sailing for Nishikori, French duo advance as well
On the men’s side, Kei Nishikori cruised past Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 6-3.
The Japanese player needed just 70 minutes as he converted four of his five break points and improved his record at a tournament that has not been kind to him.
“I've never done well in Indian Wells but I'm becoming better feeling, so should be good this year,” he said. “I'm not the biggest server on the tour, so I try to mix it up, try not to panic, stay relaxed and focused.”