Serena makes explosive start

American drubs Pennetta in first match since regaining No 1 spot
Last Updated 22 March 2013, 17:06 IST

Serena Williams, playing her first match since regaining the world number one ranking, made a triumphant start to the Sony Open, thumping Italy's Flavia Pennetta 6-1, 6-1 on Thursday.

Playing her first match after a bye in the opening round, Williams made a sloppy start, hitting two double faults in her opening service game, but was unstoppable once she found her rhythm.

"I think I was off, footwork-wise, but it's always good to win a match and then just keep going," Williams said. "There's nothing like when they announce you and they say, 'the number one player in the world.'  "It definitely gives me a little bit more confidence, I think a little bit more pep in your step. It's just a great feeling."

At 31, Williams is already the oldest woman to reach the top of the rankings but says she feels as young as ever and has lost none of her motivation as she chases a sixth Sony Open title.

"Growing up this was dubbed the fifth Grand Slam - it's not a Grand Slam, but it's definitely a great tournament," Williams said. "It would be really cool to have the record. But I have a lot of matches to play these two weeks."

China's Li Na also made a flying start to the tournament, winning her first match since losing in the Australian Open final.
Li, beaten by Victoria Azarenka in Melbourne, reeled off the last 10 points of the match to beat Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-1.

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska fired down six aces in a 6-3, 6-2 win over Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei.

Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and ex-world number one Caroline Wozniacki also won, but both had to fight all the way.
Kvitova rallied from a set down to beat Peng Shuai 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 while Wozniacki did the same to beat Czech qualifier Karolina Pliskova 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Paes-Llodra advance

India’s Leander Paes and his French partner Michael Llodra advanced to the second round with a straight-set victory over Germany’s Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The seventh seeds beat the German pair 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday night and will now face the winners of the match between Grigor Dimitrov-Frederik Nielsen and Christian Harrison-Ryan Harrison.

Results: Men's singles (I round): Thomaz Bellucci (Bra) bt Daniel Brands (Ger) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; Aljaz Bedene (Slo) bt Benjamin Becker (Ger) 6-4, 6-3; Simone Bolelli (Ita) bt Jesse Levine (Can) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4); Jarkko Nieminen (Fin) bt David Nalbandian (Arg) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3; Ivan Dodig (Cro) bt Lukas Lacko (Slo) 4-6, 6-0, 6-4; Guido Pella (Arg) bt Carlos Berlocq (Arg) 2-1 (Berlocq retired); Lukasz Kubot (Pol) bt Frank Dancevic (Can) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; David Goffin (Bel) bt Robin Haase (Net) 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-1; Viktor Troicki (Ser) bt Pablo Andujar (Esp) 6-2, 6-3; Bernard Tomic (Aus) bt Marc Gicquel (Fra) 7-5, 7-6(3); Santiago Giraldo (Col) bt Rhyne Williams (US) 6-2, 6-4; Guillaume Rufin (Fra) bt Marius Copil (Rom) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1; Olivier Rochus (Bel) bt Tatsuma Ito (Jap) 4-6, 6-4, 3-1 (T. Ito retired); Alejandro Falla (Col) bt Go Soeda (Jap) 7-5, 6-1; Lu Yen-Hsun (Tai) bt Robby Ginepri (US) 7-5, 6-1; Daniel Gimeno-Traver (Esp) bt Denis Istomin (Uzb) 6-2, 6-4.    
Women's singles (II round): 19-Venus Williams (US) bt Kimiko Date-Krumm (Jap) 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4; 25-Varvara Lepchenko (US) bt Irina Begu (Rom) 6-3, 6-4; Romina Oprandi (Sui) beat 17-Lucie Safarova (Cze) 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5); Andrea Petkovic (Ger) bt 10-Marion Bartoli (Fra) 6-3, 4-1 (Bartoli retired); Magdalena Rybarikova (Slo) bt 27-Mona Barthel (Ger) 6-3, 7-6(5); 9-Caroline Wozniacki (Den) bt Karolina Pliskova (Cze) 5-7, 6-3, 6-3; Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Esp) bt 23-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; 13-Dominika Cibulkova (Slo) bt Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) 6-2, 6-3; Ayumi Morita (Jap) bt 31-Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-3; 1-Serena Williams (US) bt Flavia Pennetta (Italy) 6-1, 6-1; 7-Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt Peng Shuai (Chi) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2; 16-Sloane Stephens (US) bt Olga Govortsova (Bel) 0-6, 6-4, 6-4; 4-Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (Tai) 6-3, 6-2.

(Published 22 March 2013, 17:04 IST)

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