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Serena survives a scare; Sania-Cara pair advances

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TOUGH START:Maria Sharapova was down 1-3 in the second set before rallying to beat Kurumi Nara.— PHOTO: AFP
TOUGH START:Maria Sharapova was down 1-3 in the second set before rallying to beat Kurumi Nara.— PHOTO: AFP

Six-time winner Serena Williams survived a first-set scare before overcoming Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6(7), 6-2 on Thursday to power into the third round of the ATP and WTA Sony Open.

The top-seeded defending champion will next face France’s Caroline Garcia after dispatching her Kazak rival in one hour, 45 minutes.

Fourth seed Maria Sharapova, the 2013 runner-up to Williams, defeated Japan’s Kurumi Nara 6-3, 6-4 in another match.

Williams lost a 3-1 lead and trailed 3-5 as Shvedova shifted her game up a gear.

Williams got back on track in the nick of time with a break for 5-all. A love game then ended with an ace for Williams before the set went to a tie-breaker.

In the decider, the 32-year-old Williams saved three set points as a nervous Shvedova missed her big upset chance in front of a screaming house full of her rival’s supporters.

Hewitt wins 600th

Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt recorded his 600th career victory. Former No. 1 Hewitt rallied to defeat Dutchman Robin Haase 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round.

Paes-Stepanek out

Meanwhile, Sania Mirza and Cara Black fought their way into the second round even as Leander Paes made his third first-round exit in five tournaments this year when he lost his opening round at the Sony Open with partner Radek Stepanek.

The results (First round): Men: Denis Istomin bt Nicolas Mahut 7-6(8), 7-6(2); Edouard Roger-Vasselin bt Igor Sijsling 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3); Guillermo Garcia-Lopez bt Bradley Klahn 1-6, 6-1, 6-4; Jarkko Nieminen bt Bernard Tomic 6-0, 6-1; Lleyton Hewitt bt Robin Haase 2-6, 6-3, 6-3; Roberto Bautista-Agut bt Steve Johnson 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; Sam Querrey bt Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6(2), 6-3.

Doubles: Eric Butorac & Raven Klaasen bt Leander Paes & Radek Stepanek 6-3, 7-6(7).

Women: Angelique Kerber bt Peng Shuai 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5); Ekaterina Makarova bt Rebecca Peterson 6-1, 6-1; Ana Ivanovic bt Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1; Samantha Stosur bt Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-2; Sabine Lisicki bt Nadia Petrova 3-6, 6-4, 6-4; Flavia Pennetta bt Olga Govortsova 6-3, 6-3; Serena Williams bt Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6(7), 6-2; Maria Sharapova bt Kurumi Nara 6-3, 6-4.

Doubles: Cara Black & Sania Mirza bt Hao-Ching Chan & Yung-Jan Chan 6-3, 6-7(6), 10-8. — Agencies

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