Miami: American Venus Williams and Germany's Angelique Kerber both advanced in windy conditions at the Miami Open tennis tournament, earning victories in second-round matches that ended in the wee hours of Saturday.
With strong gusts making every rally an adventure and forcing her to play more defensively than usual, the 11th-seeded Williams leveraged her experience and greater consistency to secure a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, reports Efe.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion went up an early break only to hand it back when she sent a forehand sailing well over the baseline.
Venus committed nine double faults in the match and looked tentative because of the conditions, yet she notched a crucial service hold to go up 5-4 and then finished off the first set with a forehand winner in the next game.
In the second set, Venus went up 4-2 when Haddad sent a backhand long and then held for 5-2 with a swinging volley winner.
Serving at 5-3, Venus went down 0-30 but she battled back and earned a match point with an unreturnable serve and then sealed the victory with a curling ace that clipped the line.
"It wasn't easy out there. The wind felt like a gale force," Williams said before praising her 166th-ranked opponent. "I'm very impressed with her game and determination, and that will take her very far."
Next up for Venus in the third round will be Romanian qualifier Patricia Maria Tig, who upset 22nd-ranked Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 on Friday.
Just minutes after Venus' match finished, German world No. 1 and top seed Angelique Kerber wrapped up a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory over China's Duan Ying-ying.
Kerber's consistency was also the key factor as she dominated the baseline rallies that ensued when Duan missed her first serve, winning 19 of the Chinese player's 24 second-serve points.
Kerber also commented on the difficult conditions.
"It is windy and it's really late, actually," she said in her on-court interview. "I'm very happy about my win. It's always tough to play your first match here, especially with these conditions."
Kerber will square off in the third round against American Shelby Rogers, who topped Russian No. 31 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 5-7, 6-0.
In men's singles action Friday, Spain's Rafael Nadal began his quest for his first Miami Open title by defeating Israel's Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.