Cincinnati : Serena Williams re-established her customary superiority, hammering Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-2 to reach the second round of the Cincinnati Masters. The 23-time Grand Slam champion showed full recovery in her first match since suffering the worst defeat of her career two weeks ago in San Jose when she was crushed 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes by British No. 1 Johanna Konta.
But the 36-year-old was all business as she cleaned up on Australian Gavrilova, with Williams winning an 11th straight match here. “I’m feeling pretty good tonight. It’s never easy, no matter what the scoreline says,” Williams said.
“I definitely felt relaxed after the first break, but you’ve got to keep going and try to go in for the whole thing.”
Andy Murray’s injury comeback was sidetracked as the three-time Grand Slam champion lost 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to Lucas Pouille.
But fellow injury patient Stan Wawrinka opened with a defeat of 12th seed Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic survived a stiff test, needing nine match points to outlast Steve Johnson of the US 6-4, 7-6 (7/4). Djokovic is coming off a third round loss at last week’s Toronto tournament.
Murray, returning from January hip surgery, was unable to get past the French 16th seed, hampering his preparations for the US Open starting on August 27. “Physically, I felt okay. It’s quick conditions here,” Murray said. “He was a little bit sharper than me out there.
Spanish 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta started his week with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 defeat of France’s Richard Gasquet, while Japan’s Kei Nishikori put out Russian Andrey Rublev, 7-5, 6-3. Canadian Denis Shapovalov beat US tournament debutant Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 7-5, while Sam Querrey beat American compatriot John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5).
In the women’s first round, Azarenka made her first appearance here since 2015 count as she defeated Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-4. Double Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova continued her 2017 injury comeback, beating Swiss Stefanie Voegele 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5).