Rome - Serena Williams got her clay-court
season off to a strong start with a 6-4, 6-3 win over 51st-ranked Anna-Lena
Friedsam in the second round of the Italian Open on Tuesday.
Having missed the Madrid Open last week due
to a fever, top-ranked Williams showed no signs of illness, sending down
crushing returns of serve for winners and dictating the long rallies.
"I love the clay and it just really
felt good out there tonight," Williams said. "I was really happy with
my level. I think I was really consistent. ... I was really concerned how it
would be just running and moving and recovering. But it was fun."
A 21-time Grand Slam winner, Williams
hasn't won a title since a hard-court event in Cincinnati last August.
Williams was beaten by Angelique Kerber in
this year's Australian Open final, and then fell to Victoria Azarenka in the
title-match in Indian Wells, California. In her only other appearance this
year, Williams lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round of the Miami
A three-time Rome champion, Williams is
warming up for the French Open, which starts in 12 days.
The 22-year-old Friedsam reached the fourth
round of the Australian Open this year and showed off a strong first serve,
hitting six aces - one less than Williams - but was otherwise overmatched.
"It wasn't an easy match,"
Williams said. "She's an up-and-coming player and she plays well."
In first-round action, Eugenie Bouchard
beat Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in a matchup of former top-10 players and
will next face Kerber.
Also, 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur
rallied past American qualifier Alison Riske 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 and rising
British player Johanna Konta defeated Swedish qualifier Johanna Larsson 6-1,
In men's second-round action, sixth-seeded
Kei Nishikori beat Viktor Troicki 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 and eighth-seeded Tomas Berdych
defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4.
Nishikori surged ahead after Troicki got
into a shouting match with the chair umpire at 1-1 in the second set.
In the first round, ninth-seeded David
Ferrer came back from a set down to defeat Italian wild card entry Filippo
Volandri 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Jankovic won this clay-court tournament in
2007 and 2008, but has gone three months without reaching a quarter-final.
Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up, slipped in the rankings last year but
has rebounded with two finals this season.
"I knew it would be a tough
battle," Bouchard said. "I realized that she started controlling too
many points, so in the third set I decided no matter what, even if I make a
couple more mistakes, I need to step in and go for it. That made the
Also, US Open champion Flavia Pennetta was
honoured with a tribute on the statue-lined Pietrangeli court. Pennetta retired
at the end of last year.