She hadn’t played a competitive match since losing in the round of 16 at the Miami Open in March, but World No. 1 Serena Williams was sure to light up the Foro Italico when she took the court on Tuesday against the 50th ranked Anna-Lena Friedsam at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The result was a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 second round victory for the top seed, who is a three-time champion at the Eternal City.
Flu had kept the mighty American off the Madrid Open last week and this was her very first clay match of 2016. But there was no rustiness from the 21-time Grand Slam champion who thundered 27 winners against 18 unforced errors to underline her French Open ambitions once again.
It was a good day for the other WTA seeds as well. Eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro, ninth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, and 11th seed Timea Bacsinszky all posted straight-sets wins. Navarro was the only other player apart from Serena who played her second round match and she beat Brazil’s Teliana Pereira 6-1, 7-5.
Two-time runner-up Kuznetsova was a 7-5, 6-4 winner over Caroline Garcia while 11th seed Bacsinszky, who re-entered the top 10, thrashed Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 6-2 in their first round matches.
Bouchard beats Jankovic
Former French Open semi-finalist Eugenie Bouchard grabbed her first win on red clay this year when she overcame two-time champion Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. The match featured as many as 14 breaks of serve but the Canadian managed to hold her nerves to secure the win.
Former runner-up Samantha Stosur, who reached the Prague final in 2016, had an equally tough day at the office but she eventually prevailed 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 over qualifier Alison Riske. Australia’s Daria Gavrilova is continuing with her resurgence as she saw off Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 7-6(3) while 18-year-old Jelena Ostapenko dismissed World No. 28 Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-1.
ATP – Three-set wins for Wawrinka, Nishikori
The two highest ATP seeds in action on Tuesday had to work extra hard for their second round victories. Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka, a former runner-up at this venue, needed 1 hour 50 minutes to seal a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win over his good friend Benoit Paire.
The reigning French Open champion will now go on to meet the Houston winner Juan Monaco, who beat 16th seed Kevin Anderson 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.Sixth seed Kei Nishikori, who reached the Madrid semi-finals last week, similarly had to claw his way back after losing the first set and he eventually defeated Viktor Troicki 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.
Ninth seed David Ferrer also did not have a smooth passage and he toiled for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Italian qualifier Filippo Volandri. The other seeds in action had it easy – eighth seeds Tomas Berdych cantered to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 12th seed David Goffin beat Jack Sock 6-4, 6-4 and 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut pummelled Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-1.
Among the other winners, lucky loser Lucas Pouille reached the third round by virtue of his 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph over qualifier Ernests Gulbis. Pouille got into the main draw when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew. Munich titlist Philipp Kohlschreiber prevailed 6-4, 6-2 over qualifier Inigo Cervantes to set up a second round clash with seven-time winner Rafael Nadal.