Serena Williams opened her bid for a ninth Miami title Thursday in South Florida, but just in the second round it was anything but easy. Against fellow American Christina Mchale, Serena was cruising by a set and a break but Mchale reeled off five straight games to force a third. Serena eventually won 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
“She just started playing better, the kind of tennis she’s never played before,” said Serena. “I made a few mistakes and then I had to pull myself back together.
“I feel like I was just playing, but it’s all right. I’m back now and I’m going.”
Having much easier days were fellow top seeds Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ana Ivanovic and Simona Halep who had a 5-2 second set lead over Daria Kasatkina before holding on 6-3, 7-5.
“I think I complicated it a bit in the end of the match,” Halep admitted afterwards. “I did a few mistakes and I was rushing a little bit.
“I did everything – I win and lose the points. That was it.”
Not so fortunate was Sloane Stephens. The 20th-seeded Stephens was up 3-1 on Heather Watson but didn’t win another game as the Brit took 11 straight to win 6-3, 6-0.
“I thought I played very well today, actually,” Watson said. “I knew I was playing well. I started off the first few games a little bit shaky but once I started to feel comfortable I played great, which I needed to because Sloane’s such a great player.”
After a title in Acapulco last month, Stephens has now lost two straight.
On tap Friday are Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Garbine Muguruza, Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber who will try to win her very first tournament set since her Australian Open title. The German meets Barbora Strycova in the Stadium opener.
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