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First Round Begins, Morita Survives

Ayumi Morita battled back from a 61 41 deficit to win her first round match at the Sony Open Tennis. Elsewhere, Serena Williams' first opponent is now known, and it could be a very tricky one.

Published March 19, 2013 12:00

First Round Begins, Morita Survives
Ayumi Morita

MIAMI, FL, USA - The first round of the Premier-level Sony Open Tennis kicked off with eight matches on Tuesday, and for a few players in particular it didn't take long for the on-court drama to hit.

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Japanese No.1 Ayumi Morita probably had the toughest day at the office, coming from 61 41 down - and battling for two hours and 45 minutes - to make it past British No.1 Heather Watson, 16 75 64.

The other three-setter was also a comeback victory, with Irina-Camelia Begu losing four games in a row from 61 44 but battling back from 2-0 down in the third to get by Marina Erakovic, 61 46 64.

And it may not have gone to three sets, but Hsieh Su-Wei had to dig very, very deep to get past Lesia Tsurenko, coming from 4-2 down in the first set and saving three set points in a mammoth second set tie-break to close the Ukrainian out, 64 76(15). It was the longest tie-break at the WTA main draw level since the thrilling Samantha Stosur versus Maria Kirilenko second set tie-break in the fourth round of the 2011 US Open - Stosur lost that battle but won the war, 62 67(15) 63, and eventually the title.

Also among the winners were Peng Shuai, Kiki Bertens, Kristina Mladenovic, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Flavia Pennetta and Ajla Tomljanovic. Mladenovic scored a 75 62 win over Aleksandra Wozniak, who was playing her first WTA tournament in six months after a lengthy battle with a right shoulder injury.

"It was a good match - a good test after six months of rehab and everything," Wozniak said. "I played well at times today but couldn't keep it going consistently the whole time, because I haven't played a real match in such a long time. And the big thing was just trusting my shoulder on my serve, but it's doing really well and I just need to play more matches and mentally build on the confidence.

"I'm really happy to be back on the tour and I hope my game will be back soon."

Pennetta, who returned from wrist surgery in February, continued to build some momentum with a 64 61 win over Johanna Larsson. She will play No.1 seed Serena Williams in the second round - Williams has beaten Pennetta in all three of their previous meetings, but one of those wins came via retirement and one of them was a tough three-setter right here in 2008 in which the Italian led a set and 3-0.

Next up for Bertens is another player returning from an injury lay-off - the No.5 seed, Li Na.

"After Melbourne I spent one week in China and then went to Munich to see the doctor about my ankle, and then after a few weeks back to China again to train with Carlos," Li said at All-Access Hour. "Carlos lives in Beijing, he moved there with his family a year or two ago and has an academy there, which is really good for me and my tennis because I can keep training with him close to home.

"I tried to be ready for Indian Wells but my ankle wasn't ready, so I had to wait another few weeks. I really wanted to be 100% ready to come back to the court, because otherwise it would be dangerous.

"I've been really looking forward to coming back. I feel like I had another off-season just now."

And how does the Chinese megastar feel about Miami? "The first two days I got here I heard so much loud music and I was thinking, 'Come on, stop please!' But it's better now. It's my first tournament since the Australian Open so I'm really excited and am really focused on doing my best here in Miami."

The last match of the day saw yet another injury comeback story take the court, with Andrea Petkovic beating Bojana Jovanovski, 63 61. Petkovic has been out since January due to a knee injury.

The qualifying also wrapped up with Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, Stefanie Voegele, Karolina Pliskova, Jana Cepelova, Yulia Putintseva, Melinda Czink, Donna Vekic, Mallory Burdette, Shahar Peer, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Allie Kiick and Katerina Siniakova all moving through for berths into the main draw.

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