Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams opened their title defenses on a busy Saturday. Serena was on court in the after, thumping Monica Niculescu in a rematch of their Indian Wells tussle two weeks ago 6-3, 6-1.
“It was definitely easier today than last time,” Williams said of playing Niculescu. “I knew what to expect. I still got a little bit frustrated today, but overall was able to stay calm more than last time.
“I don’t think I had that many unforced errors compared to when we played at Indian Wells.”
Serena now faces 15-year-old phenom CiCi Bellis today in an intriguing third round matchup.
“It’s going to be really fun,” Bellis said. “I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to play my game and see what happens.”
Serena’s sisters, Venus, also won, defeating Sam Stosur in straight sets. Former champion Agnieszka Radwanska went three to turn away Begu, and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki lost the first set before recovering to beat Kaia Kanepi.
“I served for it a few times, but the second set didn’t go exactly as I wanted,” Venus said. “It was so interesting, because once I got to the tie-breaker, that’s when I really started to feel a lot more rhythm in my game. I think she did, too. So I think playing extra games actually helped me today.
“I think I’m going to be feeling a lot better once my next rounds come around.”
Venus now faces Wozniacki in the fourth round.
“We played a really competitive match this year,” said Venus who is 6-0 vs the Dane. “I can’t remember the score in the last set, but it was tough. I was so happy to win that match. I’m going to try to learn from that.
“I would love to win that match in two sets, but it’s going to take some work.”
In the men’s draw, World No. 1 Djokovic dropping the second but got through over Martin Klizan 6-0, 5-7, 6-1.
“Credit to Martin for battling and making me play the extra shot,” said Djokovic. “It was a pretty different game in the second set than it was in the first… I have been in these particular situations before many times in my career, and the experience obviously helps just to regroup and find a way.
“I was frustrated, no doubt about that, and every athlete goes through ups and downs and various emotions during the matches like this, and it’s important always to regroup and maintain that self‑belief and composure.”
The rest of the day went according to form with Top 10 seeds Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov and David Ferrer advancing easily.
“I felt really good on the court,” said Nishikori. “Really confident. It was a little windy, but the weather was actually good. It wasn’t too hot or too humid. It was easy to play. And also I was almost dictating the court against Misha, and serving well. Everything was good. So really happy the way I’m playing today.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his 2015 debut a success beating American Tim Smyczek in three sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a rain heldover match.
“I didn’t expect to play my best tennis today, but I’m happy the way I managed my match,” said Tsonga, a 3-time Miami quarterfinalist.
“I played pretty solid. I just had a little hole in the second set. But, it’s normal when I haven’t played in a couple of months now. I hope it’s going to be better and better, but for the first match it was already something good for me.”
John Isner, Gilles Simon and David Goffin were also winners. Goffin blew out 18-year-old Borna Coric. Ernests Gulbis, Roberto Bautista Agut and Tommy Robredo fell. Robredo lost a thriller to Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-5 in the third.
On tap Sunday, Rafael Nadal continues his bid for a first Miami title against countryman Fernando Verdasco. Two-time winner Andy Murray opens the day on Stadium vs Santiago Giraldo.
SUNDAY MIAMI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:00 am
ATP –  S. Giraldo (COL) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – V. Azarenka (BLR) vs  F. Pennetta (ITA)
WTA –  S. Williams (USA) vs [WC] C. Bellis (USA)
ATP –  F. Verdasco (ESP) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA –  S. Lisicki (GER) vs  A. Ivanovic (SRB)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – J. Monaco (ARG) vs  G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
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