Strong Start For Venus, Jankovic Match Looms
Published April 03, 2012 12:00
CHARLESTON, SC, USA - Hot off the heels of a very successful comeback to the WTA in Miami, Venus Williams got her follow-up event off to a flying start Tuesday, beating Iveta Benesova to reach the second round in Charleston.
Williams went into the Sony Ericsson Open ranked No.134 after missing almost seven months - but she won her first four matches back, including wins over Petra Kvitova and Ana Ivanovic, falling to Agnieszka Radwanska. This week the former World No.1 soared back into the Top 100, up to No.87.
"Miami was definitely a whirlwind," Williams said. "All the points were going so fast, and I was just living in the moment, and a lot of the times I ended up the victor at the end of these matches and didn't really know how it happened."
The transiton to clay didn't seem to hurt Williams at all as she comfortably dismissed Iveta Benesova in the first round of the Family Circle Cup, 64 63, losing serve in the opening game but never losing it again in the match.
"My serve felt great," Williams said. "I was still adjusting to the surface. Every clay court plays differently, the stadium can play different from the grandstand, I hadn't played on stadium yet, and you don't really slide a lot on that court anyway, so I was just getting the feel of the footing. But it was a good start.
"I feel calmer here. I feel more match tough, as they say. Hopefully the whirlwind will die down and I'll hopefully get used to getting a lot of wins."
Benesova, a WTA veteran like Williams, showed her variety, mixing in several drop shots to contrast with her predominantly aggressive, left-handed game.
"Those shots are almost untouchable," Williams said of the drop shots. "She had hands like feathers, some of them were inexplicably good. I have to give her those. If she can hit those every point, I have to give them to her. Those are tough shots to hit and she did them. Kudos. I sure didn't do any of them."
The difficulty level shoots up in the second round, however, as Williams plays No.7 seed Jelena Jankovic. Jankovic not only leads the overall head-to-head, 6-5, but she has won their last four clay court meetings, and in their last meeting, on the clay of Rome in 2010, Jankovic cruised to victory, 60 61.
"It's a great surface for her, and she always gets comfortable on clay, so I know I have to play well," Williams commented. "We've had some things we've been dealing with, with injuries, so it'll be an important match for both of us.
"I'll definitely have to be patient and try to move forward the best I can."
Other winners as the first round ended were No.12 seed Yanina Wickmayer, No.13-seeded Nadia Petrova, No.17-seeded Marina Erakovic, Varvara Lepchenko, Anna Tatishvili, Jill Craybas and Yaroslava Shvedova.