Former world No. 1 Venus Williams on Thursday emerged from a back-and-forth battle with a 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic of Germany to advance to the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.
The US veteran said that she was not feeling her best, and was at a loss for words to explain the win.
“I don’t know honestly. I’m still trying to figure it out,” said Williams, who closed out the first set after a visit from the trainer, before Petkovic had the second set all her own way.
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA Today
Williams was broken as she served for the match at 5-2 in the third, wasting one match point.
Petkovic had a game point to extend the match before Williams broke her in the final game to seal the victory.
“Every day is not your best day, but that doesn’t mean the heart and desire aren’t there,” Williams said. “I’m just happy things went my way in the third set. It got really close there.”
Williams was playing her first match since a third-round loss to then world No. 1 Simona Halep at the Australian Open in January.
“I haven’t played in forever, so that was challenging in itself, to get back into competition,” said the 38-year-old, who next faces third-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova — this year’s Australian Open runner-up.
France’s Kristina Mladenovic booked her second meeting in three weeks with world No. 1 Naomi Osaka, beating China’s Zheng Saisai 7-5, 6-2 to reach the second round.
“It’s pretty funny, playing her back-to-back,” said Mladenovic, who toppled Osaka in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last month, the Japanese star’s first match since winning the Australian Open.
“It’s going to be a brand new match,” Mladenovic said. “I’m sure her game suits well here as the defending champion, and I’m sure she wants to build on some wins again. I’m going to go out there confident, show a fight, and execute as well as I did a few weeks ago.”
In the first round of the women’s doubles, Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic edged past German-Czech duo Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.
The third seeds and reigning champions in Indian Wells, also winners in Dubai last month, saved three of six break points and converted three of four to advance to the second round.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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