CINCINNATI (AP) — Venus Williams, who needed a wild card to play in the Western & Southern Open, advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win over 12th-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia on Tuesday.
Williams, who won an Olympic gold medal in doubles with her sister, Serena, rode a dominant serve and 43-20 advantage in winners to her fourth win in four career matches against Kirilenko. Williams served 11 aces to five for Kirilenko, who also had 11 double- faults — her last on match point.
“She’s serving well,” said Kirilenko, who still broke Williams twice when the American was serving for the match in the second set. “When she’s serving well, you have to concentrate, and I think my concentration was down in the third set.”
Williams needed 2 hours, 23 minutes to pull it out. She changed strategy in the final set, relying less on her serve to win pints.
“A couple of breaks helps,” Williams said. “I just tried to stay focused, hold serve, cut down on the errors.
“I think I was putting too much emphasis on my serve. I was trying to win off my serve. I wasn’t patient enough. I changed my ways in the third set.”
Another American wild card, Sloane Stephens, moved on with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, while Anna Tatishvili of Georgia eliminated Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5), 7-5.
Fifteenth-seeded Nadia Petrova retired with an injury after falling behind fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (8), 3-1 in their first-round match.
Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson advanced when Austria’s Tamira Paszek retired trailing 6-1, 2-1. In two matchups of qualifiers, Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan cruised past Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-1, and the Czech Republic’s Andrea Hlavackova defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States 6-3, 7-5.
In the tournament’s first second-round match, fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany needed three sets to eliminate Timea Babos of Hungary 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
In men’s first-round action, Japan’s Kei Nishikori easily defeated Marcel Granollers of Spain, 6-1, 6-2.
Gilles Simon of France withdrew with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by lucky loser Alejandro Falla of Colombia.