SONY OPEN TENNIS
Radwanska, Li Make Strong Starts; Venus Battles Through
World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska rolled in her title defense opener at the Sony Open Tennis on Thursday in Miami, dismissing Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3, 6-2. Radwanska won 66 percent of her second serve return points and broke Hsieh four times in the 65-minute encounter.
"I am very happy to have a quick match," said Radwanska. "The first match is always a little bit tough and tricky, especially coming from Indian Wells, where we have a little bit different conditions. So I'm just happy to be in the third round and have two-set match. I will do everything to hold the trophy again. Winning this kind of tournament, it's almost like winning Grand Slam."
The Pole is looking to win her third title of the year, following triumphs in Auckland (d. Wickmayer) and Sydney (d. Cibulkova). Last year at Crandon Park, Radwanska topped Maria Sharapova in the final to win her biggest title to date.
Three-time titlist Venus Williams set an intriguing second-round matchup with 16th-seeded compatriot Sloane Stephens. Williams survived a stern test from 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm in the featured night-session match, battling past the 1995 runner-up 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4 in just over two and a half hours. The 19th-seeded Williams closed out Date-Krumm on her seventh match point. She reached the quarterfinals last year when she began her comeback after being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome.
“I was pretty determined out there. She played really well,” said Williams. “It's really good to come full circle here. I got to play the Olympics and now this year, I’m trying to do even better.”
Despite being bageled in the first set, Stephens rallied past Olga Govortsova 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 41 minutes. Stephens, who reached her first major semifinal at the Australian Open (l. to Azarenka), is through to the third round for the second year in a row, having successfully qualified in 2012.
Fifth seed Na Li made a successful return from a seven-week absence with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Kiki Bertens. Li, who injured her left ankle in January’s Australian Open final (l. to Azarenka), did not lose serve to seal the win in 67 minutes.
“I wasn’t nervous today before the match, but I was excited,” Na said. “For the last six or seven weeks I haven’t played any tournaments so I was happy with the result today and to win my first match after such a long time. There were a lot of fans there to support me today, I was like ‘Wow!’ My game was pretty good today. I followed the plan of what I should do. I just had to believe in myself that I could do it.”
Li will take on No. 25 seed Varvara Lepchenko in the third round. Lepchenko defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-4.
Seventh seed Petra Kvitova defeated Shuai Peng 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, capitalizing on six of her nine break points. The Czech will play 30th seed Kirsten Flipkens next. Flipkens beat qualifier Stefanie Voegele 6-4, 6-2.
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