Wed, May 15, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Muguruza beats Zheng to find her clay feet in Rome

AFP, ROME

Zheng Saisai of China returns to Garbine Muguruza of Spain during their Internazionali d’Italia women’s singles first-round match in Rome on Monday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Former French Open winner Garbine Muguruza on Monday warmed up for this month’s clay-court Grand Slam at Roland Garros by easing into the second round of the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome with a straight sets win over China’s Zheng Saisai.

Muguruza — a former world No. 1 now ranked 19th — came through 6-3, 6-4 for her third win of the season over 46th-ranked Saisai.

The 25-year-old Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, has twice reached the semi-finals in Rome.

“It was a slow start, but I’m happy because last week wasn’t a good week for me,” Muguruza, who exited the Madrid Open in the first round, told the WTA Web site. “I love Rome and it is very important for me to get as many matches as I can for the Grand Slam at the French Open.”

She next plays either Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, the 11th seed, or Danielle Collins of the US, for a place in the third round.

It was not a good day for Chinese players at the Foro Italico with two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka crushing Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-1. Fifteenth seed Wang Qiang of China fell to Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Former world No. 1 Serena Williams returned from injury to book a rematch with her sister Venus Williams 21 years after they last met in Rome.

Four-time Rome winner Serena, 37, eased through 6-4, 6-2 against Swedish qualifier Rebecca Petersen after nearly two months out with a knee injury.

However, 38-year-old Venus, whose only Rome title came back in 1999, needed more than three hours to battle past Belgium’s Elise Mertens 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).

The sisters last played each other in the quarter-finals in Rome in 1998, with Venus the winner.

“I love the clay season and wanted to do everything to be a part of it,” said Serena, who is one title short of Chris Evert’s record of five Rome crowns.

“It’s not about today or tomorrow. Obviously the slams, etc., just getting ready for those events,” the 23-time Grand Slam winner added.

Former world No. 4 Dominika Cibulkova won her match 6-2, 6-3 against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and next meets US Open and Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka of Japan.

Britain’s Johanna Konta swept aside Alison Riske 6-4, 6-1, and next plays Sloane Stephens.

Wildcard Sara Errani of Italy fell 6-1, 6-0 to Slovakia’s Victoria Kuzmova.

Eighteenth seed Madison Keys of the US, a semi-finalist in last year’s French Open, beat Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), and next meets compatriot Sofia Kenin.

MEN’S SINGLES

Reuters, ROME

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on Monday set up a clash with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic when he beat Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets in his first-round match at the Internazionali d’Italia.

The 20-year-old, who last year became the youngest player to reach the top 30 since 2005, put a four-match losing streak behind him as he beat the Spaniard 6-3, 7-6 (5).

Fifteenth seed Gael Monfils of France lost 6-3, 6-1 to qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in 61 minutes.

Fernando Verdasco produced a remarkable comeback to beat Britain’s Kyle Edmund 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. After losing the first set and trailing 4-1 in the second, the Spaniard won 10 games out of the next 13 to claim the victory.

Italy’s Fabio Fognini continued his progress toward breaking into the world’s top 10 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The 10th seed out-maneuvered the Frenchman in baseline rallies to win in one hour, 23 minutes.

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