March 27, 2016 / 2:53 AM / a year ago

Serena Williams takes another step to ninth Miami title

Mar 26, 2016; Key Biscayne, FL, USA; Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Zarina Diyas (not pictured) during day five of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Williams won 7-5, 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Serena Williams won her 750th career match to stay on track for her ninth Miami Open title when she beat Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 7-5 6-3 in the third round in Florida on Saturday.

The world number one improved her career record to 750-125, seventh on the all-time list and just three match wins behind Lindsay Davenport’s 753. Martina Navratilova sits atop the all-time list with 1,442 wins. The 34-year-old Williams will meet Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round. The 15th seed defeated France’s Caroline Garcia 4-6 6-2 7-6(6).

Unlike the last time they met, when Williams required 54 minutes and Diyas won just two games, the 22-year-old Kazak gave the American some trouble in the heat and humidity of Miami.

Williams jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second set, only to see Diyas rally and win three straight games. But the 21-times grand slam champion steadied to close out the match.

"I think she called her coach and they used a different strategy," Williams said in a courtside interview.

"I was able to figure it out after a little bit. She played well, especially to be ranked 97th. She has a bright future because she’s so young. But I really wanted to close it out."

Williams and Kuznetsova were joined in the fourth round by Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, Romanian Simona Halep, Swiss Timea Bacsinszky, Russian Ekaterina Makarova and wild-card Heather Watson of Great Britain.

Makarova, the 30th seed, upset eighth seed Czech Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-4.

Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both

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