Stroll for Serena

Serena Williams was happy with her start to the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Miami, as she dropped just five games to Chinese opponent Zhang Shuai.

Serena Williams was happy with her start to the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Miami, as she dropped just five games to Chinese opponent Zhang Shuai.

Williams, returning to the WTA Tour for the first time since losing to Ekaterina Makarova in round four of the Australian Open in January, was simply too strong for a second-round opponent who was in the tournament on a wild card.

The American won 6-2 6-3 and will face Italian Roberta Vinci next. Vinci beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5 6-1.

Williams, whose sister Venus returned from a long injury absence with a win on Wednesday, gave her own performance a solid pass mark, partly because she managed to stay composed.

“The last time I played, I played horrible and hit a ball into the stands,” said Williams, winner of 13 grand slam singles titles through her career.

“I told my friend, if I don’t hit a ball into the stands, then I am good. That didn’t happen today.”

Williams was joined in the third round by Kim Clijsters, unseeded this week due to the injury misfortune which has kept her sidelined for much of the last year.

Former US Open champion Clijsters overcame German 14th seed Julia Goerges 6-2 7-5 to set up an all-Belgian clash next with Yanina Wickmayer, the number 23 seed who stepped past Marina Erakovic, 6-3 6-4.

Maria Sharapova stumbled through her second-round test, the second-seeded Russian eventually seeing off Israel’s Shahar Peer 4-6 6-3 6-3.

There was a smoother path to the last 32 for Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, the world number six taking a little time to get into her stride before easing to a 6-4 6-0 win against Czech opponent Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Other notable seeded winners included Australian Samantha Stosur, China’s Shuai Peng and Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, but number 13 seed Jelena Jankovic lost, the Serbian pummelled 6-0 6-3 by Germany’s Mona Barthel.

In the men’s event, a round behind at this stage and with the seeds yet to make their entrance, there were first-round successes for Cypriot baseliner Marcos Baghdatis, 6-1 6-4 over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, and big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who boomed down 27 aces in his 6-3 6-7 (7/2) 7-6 (7/3) win Poland’s Lukasz Kubot.

American prospect Ryan Harrison, in the tournament thanks to a wild card, justified his presence with a 6-7 (8/6) 6-4 6-4 victory against Italy’s Potito Starace, while Australia’s big hope for future grand slam success, Bernard Tomic, was a 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 winner over Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky.

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