After a tight start Serena Williams pulled away from Karolina Pliskova last night in Stanford. Playing in her first match since her bizarre Wimbledon retirement a month ago, Serena and Pliskova were level 5-5 until the current No. 1 ran off a slew of games to beat the Czech 7-5, 6-2.
“I was playing a player I knew was going to be very difficult to break, so it was really important for me to be super focused on my serve today,” Serena said. “I’m still taking it a match at a time though – I’m just worried about doing what I want to do and what I’ve been practicing on the court.
“But I wasn’t feeling any nerves today. I felt good. And I felt fine physically.”
Serena moves on to the Friday quarters where she’ll await the Ana Ivanovic-Carol Zhao winner. Ivanovic beat Serena at the Australian Open this year.
Other winners were Andrea Petkovic, American qualifier Sachia Vickery and Varvara Lepchencko who upended Aga Radwanska.
Tonight in a battle of fallen former No. 1s, Victoria Azarenka will play Venus Williams. After missing much of the year, Azarenka, who turns 25 today, is seeking her first quarterfinal on the WTA since the Australian Open.
In D.C., John Isner was upset in a final set breaker by fellow American Steve Johnson 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(6).
Isner, who just won Atlanta and was a Washington finalist a year ago, was disappointed with being scheduled off center court for the match.
“I didn’t like playing out there,” Isner told the AP of being placed on Grandstand 1.
“I just didn’t think I deserved to play on that court,” the top ranked American man added. “Simple as that.”
“I like my chances better on center court, but he beat me fair and square,” said Isner.
Isner’s fellow top seeds all advanced. Top seed Tomas Berdych rolled over Robby Ginepri 6-1, 6-4. Milos Raonic need two breakers to beat Jack Sock and Kei Nishikori went three to turn away Sam Querrey. Richard Gasquet and Vasek Pospisil were also winners while Feliciano Lopez was upset.
Tonight Raonic meets Lleyton Hewitt and Berdych battles Pospisil.
Two-time Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova headlines the women’s event today against former Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens. Vania King also meets Christina McHale.
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