Venus Williams in action against Dalila Jakupovic during their Miami Open match on Thursday.
Miami: Venus Williams displayed the mental strength that has made her a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion on Thursday, holding off a spirited challenge by Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic at the WTA Miami Open.
The 38-year-old American, a quarter-finalist at Indian Wells last week, turned back Jakupovic 7-5, 6-3 in 78 minutes to reach the second round after a rough start.
Jakupovic was serving for the first set and Venus was on the back foot before the qualifier wilted under the pressure and 43rd-ranked American a second-round matchup against Spanish 24th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
Tenth seed Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion and younger sister of Venus, will open in the second round against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson, who eliminated German qualifier Laura Siegemund 6-1, 5-7, 7-5.
Venus credits her mother, Oracene Price, with instilling the character and desire to match the tennis skills developed by their father and long-time coach Richard Williams. Venus, a three time Miami Open champion, is the oldest player in the women’s singles draw but has no problem striving for more titles.
Three consecutive breaks saw 80th-ranked Jakupovic ease into an early 3-2 lead with Venus struggling on serve, and she served for the first set at 5-4 before Venus answered to claim a set that saw seven service breaks in all. Venus stormed ahead 5-1 in the second set and cruised from there.
Venus, in a record 20th Miami appearance, knows she faces a tougher test in Suarez Navarro even though she owns a 6-3 career edge on the Spaniard.
Mari Osaka, the older sister of world number one Naomi Osaka, was ousted in her opening match, falling to American Whitney Osuigwe 6-2, 6-4.
Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, fresh off the Indian Wells title, rallied to beat Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 in her opening match.
World number two Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic downed Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4, to become the first player into the third round.
In ATP first-round matches, Australia’s Bernard Tomic dispatched Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro 6-4, 6-1 and Aussie Jordan Thompson downed Britain’s Cameron Norrie 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
Kvitova, Pliskova snub Fed Cup playoffs against Canada
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova will snub the Fed Cup playoffs against Canada in April, raising the chances of holders the Czech Republic being relegated from the World Group, the team said on Thursday.