Serena Wins in Rome

Posted on May 16, 2007

ROME, Italy - On Tuesday, eight-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams opened her 2007 Internazionali BNL d'Italia campaign with a straight-sets win over Michaella Krajicek at the $1.34-million Tier I event.

Williams, who received a first-round bye, admitted to a slow start against the 18-year-old Krajicek, who kept the reigning Australian Open on the run in the first set.

"I felt like I wasn't playing my game at all," said Williams, who now holds a 17-2 record for the year after winning the Australian Open and the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. "I felt like I was just making a lot of errors and I was letting her dictate play, and that wasn't my game at all."

Williams would eventually find her game and secure the win in an easy second set, 64 61.

"I knew I was going to stay out there all night if I had to, so I just had to relax," added the No.8 seed, who is the first to advance into the third round.

Williams will now face the winner of the second-round match between No.11 seed Shahar Peer and Ai Sugiyama.

Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Italian favorites continued to drop out as Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci, wildcard Romina Oprandi and lucky loser Sara Errani all lost their first-round matches. Errani was a replacement for Ana Ivanovic who withdrew because of an ankle injury.

But two Italians kept the local fans' hopes alive with first-round wins.

No.16 seed Tathiana Garbin defeated compatriot, No.53-ranked Pennetta, 63 76(3), while No.30-ranked Mara Santangelo beat recent Prague champion Akiko Morigami 62 60.

Santangelo set up a second-round clash on Wednesday with No.2 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, who had a first-round bye.

"I played Svetlana twice last year, in Melbourne and Paris. At the French Open, it was a close first set, and playing her on clay, and in front of my home crowd, I hope I can put in a good performance," Santangelo said.

Two other seeds also advanced into the second round - No.14 Patty Schnyder and No.15 Katarina Srebotnik.

Schnyder needed little time to beat Vasilisa Bardina 61 62, while Srebotnik scored a 64 62 win over Martina Muller.

The crafty left-handed Schnyder will next meet Meilen Tu, who was responsible for taking out Italy's Vinci 26 62 64. Srebotnik next faces Anabel Medina Garrigues, a 62 62 winner over Zheng Jie.

Zheng's Chinese countrywoman Yan Zi survived a three-setter against Severine Bremond, 26 60 63.

Other winners on Tuesday were Sybille Bammer, Kaia Kanepi, Nathalie Dechy, Samantha Stosur, Katarina Bondarenko, and lucky loser Yuliana Fedak. Fedak took advantage of the lucky loser spot she was given after Li Na withdrew due to a gastrointestinal illness.

In the doubles first round, the No.8 seeds Daniela Hantuchova and Nadia Petrova took out Peer and Dinara Safina, 62 64, while Martina Muller and Gabriela Navratilova beat Eleni Daniilidou and Jasmin Woehr.

On Wednesday, the top seed in Rome will play her opening match as Amelie Mauresmo takes on Samantha Stosur.

Stosur doesn't have a good record against the former world No.1.

"I've played Amelie five times, and every time, I've been beaten easily," said Stosur, who ousted Schiavone 63 64 to set up her meeting with Mauresmo. "But I'm getting more experience playing these top players, and even though I wasn't brought up on clay, I'm feeling more comfortable on it, so I hope tomorrow will be a better chance for me."

Wednesday's matches begin at 1 p.m. local time with the top two seeds, Mauresmo and Kuznetsova, in action on Campo Centrale.  (WTA)