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Top-girl Serena bags WTA clay opener

SERENA-CALI-WINCHARLESTON, South Carolina, April 3 – World No. 1 Serena Williams served nine aces Tuesday during her first match this season on clay, beating Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-3 at the $795,000 WTA Family Circle Cup.

Williams did not commit a double fault but took full advantage of 12 by her 85th-ranked rival to win after 82 minutes in her first match since capturing the WTA Miami crown last Saturday by beating Maria Sharapova in the final.

“It wasn’t great for me — I played well, but I wasn’t great, footing-wise,” Williams said of the switch from the hard courts of Miami to the clay courts of Charleston.

“I was just trying to get my stability. I only had one or two days of practice. But I felt good. I’m glad I came here and hope I can get ready for what can hopefully be another good clay court season.”

Next in the path of Williams, who was among eight top seeds to receive a first-round bye, is a third-round match against either Germany’s 15th-seeded Sabine Lisicki or US qualifier Mallory Burdette.

Others reaching the third round included Swiss Stefanie Voegele, who ousted Spanish seventh seed Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-4, and Romanian 11th seed Sorana Cirstea, who defeated Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues in a walkover.

US wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands rebounded from a marathon first-round victory on Monday to topple fourth-seeded compatriot Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-0 and reach the third round.

Among first-round winners were Britain’s Laura Robson, who dismissed Spain’s Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-2, 6-2, and New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic, who eliminated Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

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