Serena, Clijsters, Sharapova advance at Miami
SERENA Williams, saying she felt nervous and rusty, made a triumphant WTA return from a left ankle injury, defeating China’s Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday at the WTA and ATP Miami hardcourt event.
Fellow former World No. 1 players Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki also advanced to the third round at the $9.6 million tournament, which awarded byes in the first round to seeded players. In her first tournament match since losing in the fourth round at the Australian Open, Williams fired six aces and connected on 64 percent of her first serves while dropping only one service break to advance in 80 minutes.
“I was a little bit rusty and a little bit nervous too,” Williams said. “I haven’t played here for so long and I wanted to do well. So I was really nervous out there.” The 13-time Grand Slam singles champion advanced to a third-round match against Italy’s Roberta Vinci, who ousted Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-1. T“I’m always a little nervous in the first round. I kind of chill out after that,” Williams said.
“Last time I played I played horrible and I was thinking as long as I don’t hit a ball into the stands I’ll be good. “I didn’t do that today, so it worked out well for me.” But she had not been in a tour match since losing to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova in the round of 16 at Melbourne.
Williams withdrew before her Brisbane quarter-final with a sore ankle in her only other WTA start this year.
Williams won a day after her sister, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, beat Japan’s Kimiko Date- Krumm 6-0, 6-3 in a firstround match. Russian second seed Sharapova advanced by rallying to defeat Israel’s Shahar Peer 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, after two hours and 24 minutes.
She denied Peer on 10- of-13 break-point chances while taking half the 10 she earned for herself.
On the men’s side, US wildcard Ryan Harrison ousting Italy’s Potito Starace 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-4 to book a secondround date with Swiss star Roger Federer, who has won his past three tournaments in a row including last week’s title at Indian Wells.
Marcus Baghdatis of Cyprus advanced with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, advancing to a secondround match on Saturday against World No 1 Novak Djokovic.