In what could be her last Miami Open, Venus Williams was bounced in her opening match by qualifier Elena Vesnina 6-0, 6-7, 6-2.
“That was a great match, great fight,” Vesnina said on court. “It’s always an honor to play against Venus. She’s a great champion. We played many times against each other and it’s always been a pleasure to play her and it’s always been a tough match-up.
“I’m really happy that I won today.”
Williams, now 36, has lost her last two matches, both to qualifiers.
In the match of the day, though, Wimbledon finalist Garbine Mugurza outlasted Dominika Culbukova 6-7, 6-3, 7-5.
“The match today was so tough but I’m so happy I’ve been through this against Dominika,” Muguruza said. “She played very well and I think it was a tricky second round because she’s really tough. But I’m very happy that I fight all the match – even though I lost the first set hard – and I was able to come back.”
Roberta Vinci needed a final set tiebreaker to deny Lucie Hradecka.
Having an easier day were Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka took down Monica Puig 6-2, 6-2 and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber shook off a recent slump pounding Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-1.
“It was a great start for me,” Kerber said. “I knew that Barbora was a tough opponent and it was a tricky one – she’s played very well this year. But I always go out there and try to play my game again and try to be tough mentally, run for every ball.
“I worked very hard before Miami, because I had a lot of time after Indian Wells and I think the hard work pays off again. I’m also a little bit more relaxed and healthy.”
Madison Keys, Johanna Konta were also winners and the Pliskova sisters split on the day. 17th-seeded Karolina lost to Timea Babos while Kristyna, who qualified, stunned No. 7 seed Belinda Bencic.
Eight-time champion Serena Williams returns Saturday to face Zarina Diyas. Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simon Halep and Petra Kvitova are also on court as the third round begins for the women.
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