Three-time champion Serena Williams advanced to the second round of the Toronto Open with a 6-3 6-4 win over Spain’s Nuria Parisas Diaz on Monday, while Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Simona Halep also advanced.

Williams, in just her second singles match since returning to action at Wimbledon in June after a year’s absence from competition, was forced to dig deeper during the nearly two-hour match in hot and humid conditions.

One of 14 main draw winners at the US Open qualifier, Williams won her fourth set point, taking the first set point with a vintage forehand that Parisas Diaz had no chance of returning.

The second set was much tighter and Williams did well to hold serve in a physically demanding 18-minute game in which she used her strength to fend off four break points to level at 4-4.

Williams then broke her opponent after Parisas Diaz sent a backhand wide of the net to clinch the match for her first singles win since the 2021 French Open.

Next up for Williams will be either Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, the No. 12 seed, or Czech Tereza Martinkova.

Romanian 15th seed Halep, who withdrew from last week’s second-round match in Washington due to illness, needed just 61 minutes to win 6-0 6-2 over Croatia’s Dona Vekic.

Halep took the first set in 21 minutes and never looked back as Vekic grew increasingly frustrated as the match wore on.

“It’s not about the result, it’s about the way I played,” said Halep, who did not face a break point, during an interview on the court. “I was very aggressive and played fast, so that’s my goal and I try to do that every day.”

Halep, who won her two Canadian titles when the event was held in Montreal in 2016 and 2018, faces either China’s Zhang Shuai or Spanish qualifier Cristina Busca in the second round.

Rybakina, who was knocked out in the first round in San Jose last week after her Wimbledon triumph, beat Czech Maria Bouskova 7-5 6-7(3) 6-1 to secure her first Grand Slam title.

The next match for Rybakina from Kazakhstan will be a meeting with the American Koko Gauf, who is seeded under the 10th number, or with Madison Brengle.

Canadian 13th seed Leila Fernandez will open the night session in Toronto against Australia’s Storm Sanders before Venus Williams takes on Switzerland’s Jill Teichmann.

Source by [author_name]

Previous article“Grease” star Olivia Newton-John has died
Next articleOlivia Newton John, singer and actress, has died aged 73