Serena, Sharapova Advance At Ericsson


Serena Williams made a triumphant WTA return in her first tournament match since the Australian Open, defeating China’s Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday at the WTA and ATP Miami hardcourt event.

Serena, who had been sidelined by a left ankle injury, fired six aces and connected on 64 percent of her first serves while surrendering only one service break to advance into the third round with an 80-minute triumph.

The 13-time Grand Slam singles champion will next face Italy’s Roberta Vinci, who ousted Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5, 6-1.

Former World No. 1 Serena played for the US Fed Cup team last month, winning two singles matches in a 5-0 World Group II victory over Belarus.

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But she had not been in a tour match since losing to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova in the round of 16 at Melbourne.

Five-time Miami winner Williams, the 10th seed on the women’s side of the $9.6 million event, withdrew before her Brisbane quarter-final match because of the ankle injury in her only other WTA start this year.

Second seed Maria Sharapova was tested early in her opening-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open yesterday, before easing past former semi-finalist Shahar Peer 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 on Stadium Court. After dropping serve twice in the first set, Sharapova was broken just once over the next two sets, defeating Peer in two hours and 24 minutes to improve to a 6-0 record against the Israeli.

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