Miami - Venus Williams, in only her second WTA match after a long
illness lay-off, upset world No. 3 Petra Kvitova on Friday to reach the
third round of the WTA and ATP Miami hardcourt tournament.
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal cruised
in his opener by ousting Colombia's Santiago Giraldo 6-2, 6-0 in 69
minutes, while women's top seed Victoria Azarenka stretched her win
streak to 24 matches by eliminating Dutch player Michaella Krajicek 6-3,
7-5 at the US$9.6 million (S$12.1 million) event.
But seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Williams stole the show.
'It's definitely a big step
forward,' she said after her 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 win. 'To win these matches
definitely a lot of it is mental, to get out there and believe you're
going to win. How I'm going to do, I never really know, so it's great to
have a win like this. It's definitely satisfying.'
Williams withdrew from last year's US Open
with the auto-immune disorder Sjogren's syndrome, an illness that saps
energy and causes joint pain. Her first tournament match since then was a
first-round triumph on Wednesday.
That put her up against Czech third seed
Kvitova, who fought to reach a third set only to be overpowered by
Williams after two hours and 18 minutes.
Kvitova was impressed with how well Williams played after seven months away.
'She looks very ready, very fit,' Kvitova
said. 'The third set was really cruel for me. I knew what I had to do,
but it's tough to play against her.'
Williams said she was playing with new enthusiasm.
'I'm pretty pumped out there. Like literally I
have nothing to lose,' she said. 'Every shot is a victory and a
blessing so I'm just going for it.'