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Serena victorious on Rome return

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Originally published on: 05/05/10 10:40

Serena Williams overcame a testing first set to beat Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets in her first match since claiming her 12th Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

The world No.1 and reigning Aussie Open champ has been sidelined with a knee injury since January and had to shake off a rusty start before triumphing 7-6(2) 6-1 at the Italian Open in Rome.

“I was a little off,” admitted Williams after battling back from two early breaks at 4-1 down in the first set to nab the opener on a tie-break.

“I got off to a little bit of a slow start but it was good and I was able to fight it off,” she said, but refuted suggestions that she was out of sorts in the opening set.

“I don’t think anything went wrong. I thought she played excellently to be honest. I thought she was really playing well so I just had to pick up the level of my game.”

A champion in Rome in 2002, Serena put a lackluster start behind her in game 10, springing to life to save three set points before breaking level at 5-5 and then strolling through the tie-break for the loss of just two points.

That brought an end to 20-year-old Bacsinszky’s resistance, though she did manage to hold in the fifth game of the second set from 40-0 down, before Williams eased on to victory.

The 28-year-old, who had won her fifth Aussie Open title in her previous outing, admitted it would take time to return to her best after her lengthy absence from competitive action.

“My body is fine. It’s feeling better. When you first come back, you’re never really 100%.

“At first you just have to start playing some tournaments to see how it goes.”

Sister Venus, herself returning from a spell on the sidelines with a knee problem, also eased past a Swiss to make the third round in Rome.

The 29-year-old American defeated Patty Schnyder 6-2 6-2 for her 10th win in as many meetings.

“We’ve had some difficult matches in the past although that score was a bit easy,” said the 1999 Rome champ. “When I play against her I have the opportunity to control the point a little more because she doesn’t hit with so much force.”

Elsewhere in Rome, Caroline Wozniacki took just 50 minutes to defeat London-based Italian Maria Elena Camerin 6-1 6-0 before Agnieszka Radwanska managed the same scoreline against Roberta Vinici.

There was more bad fortune for the Italians, as 12th and 13th seeds Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone both crashed out in straight sets.

World No.58 Ana Ivanovic showed signs of her former best, winning only her seventh match of the year with a 6-4 6-4 victory over ninth seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka.

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