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US women on the rise in Miami

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Originally published on: 23/03/12 12:04

Serena Williams put her stamp back on the WTA tour after an injury break, cruising through her second round match against Shuai Zhang. The American, who hasn’t played a match since the fourth round of the Australian Open, eliminated Zhang in straight sets and now faces Italian Roberta Vinci in the third round.
 
In typical Williams style, sister Venus also made her tour comeback this week after a six-month illness break. It will be a tough road back for Williams, who now sits at No.134 after finishing last year outside of the top 100 for the first time since 1996. After retiring from the US Open last year and announcing her diagnosis with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that caused chronic fatigue, Williams changed her diet to incorporate raw and vegan food in an effort to get back to her most effective form. After flying past Kimiko Date-Krumm in the first round, the recovering star said she was just happy to be back on the court.
 
“Just to be in this tournament is a huge win for me,” she told the press. “I have nothing to lose. Just, you know, to gain. Just to get back at this level is a win for me.”
 
She will be facing a challenge in the next round, up against the third seed Petra Kvitova.
 
Also bracing herself for a tough challenge is Vania King, who beat Laura Pous-Tio of Spain in straight sets. She now faces a much more intimidating opponent in 12th seed Ana Ivanovic. The pair last met in the third round of the Australian Open, where the Serbian quickly dispatched King for the fourth consecutive time.
 
There were two US girls who have had less good fortune in the tournament though. Jamie Hampton was taken out in the first round after failing to mount much of a fight against Polona Hercog while promising youngster Christina McHale also failed to progress, after defeat at the hands of Petra Cetkovska in the second round
 
McHale must have thought the game was hers after bageling the Czech in the first set. But the world No.29 mounted an astounding comeback to take the second set 7-5. She went on to outplay the American in the final set to finish it 6-1.
 
Qualifier Sloane Stephens is on the up after holding off Sara Errani, a player ranked 60 places above her at No.30, to make it to the third round. The young Floridian staged a second set comeback that forced a tie-break, before taking the third set 6-4.
 
Another qualifier, Madison Keys, has also surpassed expectations. At No.275, Keys was facing world No.92 Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, and overcame her despite losing the first set on a tiebreak. Keys commented on the potential of some of the rising American stars in the game after her victory.
 
“I think there is a great group of US girls coming up right now,” said the 17-year-old. “I think if we just keep working hard and doing what we’re doing, then we have a chance at being, you know, maybe the next generation.”

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