Serena withstands fightback to advance

Miami—World number one Serena Williams was forced to regroup but launched her bid for a ninth Miami Open crown by defeating US compatriot Christina McHale 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.
Three-time defending champion Williams had the match on her racquet before having to withstand a fightback from her 23-year-old rival and taking two hours and seven minutes to reach the third round.
“She just started playing better, the kind of tennis she’s never played before,” said Williams. “I made a few mistakes and then I had to pull myself back together.
“I feel like I was just playing, but it’s all right. I’m back now and I’m going.”
Top seed Williams, who watched tournaments at the combined WTA and ATP hardcourt event as a child, will next face Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan, who ousted Australian Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-3.Williams fired 13 aces and 36 winners with 43 unforced errors while McHale responded with seven aces and 26 winners against 31 unforced errors.
Asked if she took McHale too lightly, Williams replied, “I don’t underestimate anyone.”
Williams, whose back-to-back finals losses at the Australian Open and Indian Wells were her first since 2004, served for the match in the 10th game of the second set but netted a backhand to surrender a break.—AFP

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