Tennis-Serena shakes out rust to advance in Auckland
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[January 03, 2017]
AUCKLAND (Reuters) - World
number two Serena Williams shook out any cobwebs from four months
away from tennis with a 6-3 6-4 victory over France's Pauline
Parmentier in the first round of the Auckland Classic on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old had not played a competitive match since she lost to
Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open last
September, withdrawing from all tennis to deal with a persistent
The American, who had participated in a charity doubles match with
sister Venus against All Blacks siblings Julian and Ardie Savea
before the tournament started, was appearing for the first time in
Auckland and persistent rain on Monday postponed her first round
match until Tuesday.
She struggled with the wind and had some rusty moments in the second
set when the Frenchwoman broke in the fourth game and held three
break points in the sixth.
The top seed was able to overcome them, however, and won the match
with her eighth ace.
"It was my first match back in several months and I played a really
good player," Williams said courtside after she wrapped up victory
in 75 minutes to set up a second round clash against qualifier Jamie
Loeb or Madison Brengle.
"The wind was really getting to me. Every day I have practised here
there was no wind but today it was so windy. So it was fun.
Actually, it wasn't fun, it was interesting."
She conceded she was feeling rusty and would be selective about her
schedule in the new season.
"I don't see myself playing a full, full schedule. But who knows?
I'm going to take it tourney by tourney."
Injury kept her out of much of the second half in 2016 even though
she still triumphed in Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's open era
record of 22 grand slam titles and her target this year was to
[to top of second column]
Serena Williams of the United States celebrates after winning a
point against Simona Halep of Romania on day ten of the 2016 U.S.
Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis
Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
I have the highest of goals usually, so obviously that involves
winning grand slams," she said.
Another former world number one, Caroline Wozniacki, dropped just
one game in a ruthless 6-1 6-0 dismantling of Nicole Gibbs in their
first round match.
"It's the first match of the year for me so it's always tough,"
Wozniacki said. "(But) today everything was going in, even with the
wind I managed to keep control of the ball and the points.
"I was pleased, especially with how I was serving."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington and Amlan Chakraborty in
New Delhi; Editing by Nick Mulvenney/Greg Stutchbury)
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