VICTORIA PARK, Hong Kong - Venus Williams took her place in the second round of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open on Tuesday, comfortably beating Risa Ozaki 6-2, 6-2 in straight sets.
The American reached the semifinals here in 2015 and appears well set for another extended run after an impressive showing.
"It was a hard-fought match, despite the score," Williams insisted afterwards. "It was a great way to start and hopefully play my way into this tournament. I played her last year - I didn't remember much about her style but she's a great retriever and could play some offence when she wanted. You have to give her credit.
"The crowd were awesome, they wanted a great match, wanted to see her do well, see the points being competed very well. It's nice to be in front of a crowd that understands the game."
The second seed raced into an early three-game lead after breaking Ozaki twice in quick succession to start the match.
A forehand sent wide allowed her Japanese opponent to work her way back into the match, breaking back at the second attempt.
That hope was to prove fleeting for Ozaki, however, as Williams regained her composure to break again for 5-2 as Ozaki called for the trainer.
After a brief delay, Williams returned to rack up three set-points, taking the first with an ace after just 38 minutes.
Ozaki lost her service game at the start of the second set as Williams then held for a fifth successive game. That run was broken as Ozaki fought back with a break of her own to tie the set at 2-2 but the World No.5 had all the answers, breaking back to love with a lovely backhand.
Fourteen years older and ranked 90 places higher than her opponent, Williams experienced little trouble in wrapping up the set and the victory. A fine cross-court shot confirmed a further break for 5-2 and Williams, who beat Ozaki at the same stage last year in the pair's only previous encounter, wrapped up the match to secure a third-round berth after just 75 minutes.
She will next face another Japanese opponent, Naomi Osaka - who beat the Chilean Alexa Guarachi, 7-5, 6-4.
Williams said afterwards that she was remaining focused on events in Hong Kong, before looking forward to the WTA Finals in Singapore. "This is definitely firmly first in my head," she said. "There's a lot of work to do, a lot of depth in this draw. I'm going to have to work my way through this and then the finals are next."