For defending champion Serena Williams it was a struggle at times but she got through her opening round beating Tsvetana Pironkova in Cincinnati earlier today 7-5, 6-3.
“When I play in front of a great crowd, I really want to play well,” Serena said.
“There wasn’t anything really tactical in particular for me today, I always just try to play my game and be consistent and stay focused. I always just try to stay focused and play the best that I can.”
Serena meets German Karin Knapp in a first-time meeting tomorrow.
2013 champion Victoria Azarenka was a winner over fellow former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-0, 6-4. The Belarussian who beat Serena in the 2013 final will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“I felt like the first set I was playing really, really well, and executing my game,” said Azarenka. “She’s the type of player you just can’t beat 6-0, 6-0 though – you know she’s going to turn it up. She started playing more aggressively in the second set and it was definitely getting tougher and tougher out there.
“But I stayed strong and stayed aggressive, and I was able to turn it around in the end.”
Last year’s Ana Ivanovic will finally play her first match Thursday against Sloane Stephens after the American came back to beat Mona Barthel.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petrva Kvitova was the big casualty of the day. The Czech who’s been fight mono lost to Caroline Garcia 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Jelena Jankvoic beat Madison Keys and Elina Svitolina ousted Eugenie Bouchard.
And Simona Halep sailed in the round of 16 notching her first win over Kristina Mladenovic.
“I had played two times before against her and she beat me, so I knew it would be difficult to play her again, but I just tried everything to win,” Halep said.
“I was up the whole match and just couldn’t finish the second set, but I tried to stay focused for every ball, and I think we played a really good match. She was playing some really good tennis today.”
Teen phenom and Canadian Open champion ran her win streak to eight beating Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta.
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