Venus Williams, Sharapova advance at China Open
BEIJING (AP): Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams moved into the second round at the China Open yesterday with straight-set victories.
The fourth-seeded Sharapova overcame six double-faults to defeat Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-1, while the 16th-seeded Williams came back from a 3-0 deficit in the opening set to defeat Britain's Heather Watson 6-3, 6-1.
Sharapova, the reigning French Open champion, said despite the double-faults, she thought she served well against the 46th-ranked Kanepi, a five-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist.
"I thought I played a difficult opponent, someone that I've had trouble against in the past," she said. "I'm usually somebody that goes for my serve. If I make more errors, I feel more confident knowing that I'm going for it, rather than just making my opponent hit a ball."
Williams started off slowly against Watson, but captured 12 of the last 13 games for a routine victory.
"She brought a lot of balls back I don't think I was expecting," Williams said of going down an early break in the match. "The first games, she didn't miss a serve for six points."
tough opponents ahead
Williams, who recently returned to the top 20 in the rankings for the first time in over a year, could next face France's Caroline Garcia, who beat her in three tight sets at the Wuhan Open last week. Garcia plays China's Zhang Shuai in the first round.
In other first-round matches on the women's side, Australian Samantha Stosur beat Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4, 6-2 to set up a second-round clash with the in-form Caroline Wozniacki, who reached the finals of the US Open earlier this month.
Other winners included No. 12-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, who beat Spain's Garbine Muguruza 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-4, and No. 15-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who took out Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4.