Cincinnati - In her final tune-up tournament before the US Open, Serena
Williams put herself back on the winning track with a 7-5 6-3 win over
Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in her opening match at the Western & Southern
Open on Wednesday.
Williams prevailed in 90 minutes and showed none of the rare struggles that
dogged her during last week's semi-final loss to Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic
The defending Cincinnati champion, who will aim for a rare sweep of the four
grand slam events at the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 US Open, broke Pironkova's serve once
in each set and then sealed the win in style with her 15th ace of the match.
"There wasn't anything really tactical in particular for me today, I
always just try to play my game and be consistent and stay focused,"
Williams, who improved to 44-2 in 2015, said in a courtside interview.
The American world number one will meet Italian Karin Knapp in the third
round. Knapp beat Russian Daria Gavrilova 6-4 6-1.
Williams is skipping next week's Connecticut Open in order to prepare for
the US Open, where she will look to earn her fifth consecutive grand slam
singles title and fourth of 2015.
"There's definitely a lot of pressure ... I would like to win the Open,
probably more than anyone else," said Williams.
"Whether I do or not, I'm going to try win it this year or next year
and just keep going for that. So, it's not the end of the world."
In other women's action Romanian third seed Simona Halep beat Frenchwoman
Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 5-7 6-4 while Czech seventh seed Lucie Safarova
advanced with a 6-4 7-5 win over American wild card Coco Vandeweghe.