Serena deals with Niculescu but Bouchard upset

Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:16pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - Serena Williams put aside her knee injury to begin her bid for an eighth Miami Open title with a 6-3 6-1 win over Romania’s Monica Niculescu at Key Biscayne on Saturday but sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard was upset by German qualifier Tatjana Maria.

Williams withdrew from her semi-final at Indian Wells last week with the knee injury and said upon arriving in Miami that this tournament would involve ‘managing pain’. But the 19-times Grand Slam winner was too much for Niculescu, ranked 70th in the world.

The match was scheduled for Friday but was postponed following a rainstorm in South Florida.

Niculescu, making ample use of her effective slice and playing some clever tennis, forced a series of entertaining rallies but Williams was always in control.

Canadian Bouchard lost 6-0 7-6(4) to Maria.

Bouchard was outplayed in the first set, but provided a strong fightback in the second taking a 5-3 lead.

But Maria, whose last win over a top ten opponent was five years ago against Li Na, rallied to take the set and match.

“It is the best win I have ever had,” said Maria, “I just didn’t think she was comfortable against my style."   Continued...

Mar 18, 2015; Indian Wells, CA, USA;   Serena Williams (USA) during her match against Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) in the BNP Paribas open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports