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Serena Edges Makarova In Opener

She had lost to Ekaterina Makarova before, and she was in all kinds of trouble in the first set this time, but Serena Williams never stopped fighting at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Published February 18, 2014 12:15

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DUBAI, UAE - Serena Williams survived all kinds of danger in the first set then cruised in the second set to make it past Ekaterina Makarova in her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships opener.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Dubai all week, right here on wtatennis.com!

Playing her first match since the Australian Open, where she suffered a back injury-hampered loss in the fourth round, Williams struggled in the first set - down 3-1 and 5-3, double set point down 6-4 in the tie-break - but the No.1-seeded American overcame it all, eventually sneaking the set out after 67 minutes and then completely running away with a 29-minute second set. Final score, 76(8) 60.

"Today was really difficult for me. I felt so rusty out there and a little frustrated - I've been practicing, but I was like, 'Gosh, this isn't what I practiced,'" Williams said after the match. "But I was just really excited to get through that. I was really telling myself to stay positive, because I was making a lot of unforced errors that I don't normally make, and my serve just wasn't popping the way it usually does.

"I'm happy for the win, but I'm going to have to play better if I want to do better here."

Williams had lost to Makarova before - coincidentally in the fourth round of the Aussie Open in 2012.

There were mixed results for the other seeds in action. Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki both made it through, the No.5-seeded Jankovic rallying from a break down in both sets to beat Ukrainian qualifier Maryna Zanevska, 64 63, and the No.8-seeded Wozniacki outdoing Sabine Lisicki, 26 63 63.

"I think one of my biggest strengths is that I never give up," Wozniacki said after her comeback win over Lisicki. "I think that's one of the reasons why I've made it so far in my career as well as back in the day, as they say. I think I've won a lot of matches in the past that I probably should have lost."

The No.6 and No.7 seeds weren't as lucky, with the No.6-seeded Angelique Kerber holding match point at 6-5 in the third set tie-break but falling to Ana Ivanovic, 36 63 76(6), and the No.7-seeded Simona Halep having to retire against Alizé Cornet after losing the first set due to an Achilles injury.

It wasn't the way she wanted, but Cornet snapped a 28-match losing streak against Top 10 players.

"I'm happy," Cornet said. "It's weird to win like this on a retirement, but I'm still happy the way I played. It's my first Top 10 win for, I don't know, like six years. I hope I can keep going like this now."

Rounding out the winners on Day 2 were Kirsten Flipkens, Flavia Pennetta and Annika Beck.

Beck turned 20 on Sunday and has recorded the first two Top 20 wins of her career the last two days - she beat World No.19 Eugenie Bouchard in the final round of qualies on Monday, 61 64, and on Tuesday she bounced back from a first set blowout to beat World No.17 Samantha Stosur, 16 61 64.

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