Serena deals with Niculescu but Bouchard upset

Sat Mar 28, 2015 9:01pm 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 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.

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

The world number one said her knee injury had barely bothered her at all.

"I really didn't feel it today, to be honest," Serena said. "Once you step out on the court you have so much adrenaline going. The adrenaline kind of kills it. So I was surprised. I felt pretty good."

The match was scheduled for Friday but was postponed following a rainstorm in South Florida meaning Williams will be back on court on Sunday against fellow American, qualifier Catherine Bellis. 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-10 opponent was five years ago against Li Na, rallied to take the set and match.   Continued...

Mar 28, 2015; Key Biscayne, FL, USA; Serena Williams hits a backhand against Monica Niculescu (not pictured) on day six of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center.  Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports