MIAMI: World number one Serena Williams is prepared to fight through pain to get onto the court on Friday and begin defending her title at the ATP and WTA Miami Open.
The 19-time Grand Slam singles champion, forced out before her Indian Wells semi-final last week against eventual champion Simona Halep due to knee injury, said that she expects to “manage pain” when she opens in the second round against Romanian Monica Niculescu.
“I know I’m going to have to manage the pain,” said Serena. “You just have to figure out the best way around it.”
The top seed will be bidding for a record eighth trophy at her home event, capturing her seventh last year when she beat China’s Li Na in the final.
“I definitely expect to do the best that I can,” said Serena. “I don’t feel any pressure because I have won this title a few times, so I feel good about being here.”
The 33-year-old American admitted that she had not imagined being able to play Miami after her knee problem, but added, “It takes a tremendous amount for me to stop. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or that’s a bad thing, but I think I will be OK.”
With all seeds in the men’s and women’s draws given byes, first-round matches for the remainder continued, with two-time winner Victoria Azarenka strengthening her 2015 injury comeback with a defeat of Spain’s Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-3.
Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic advanced over veteran Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) and Briton Heather Watson defeated Russian Evgeniya Rodina 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.
On the men’s side, American Donald Young will line up against British third seed Andy Murray after advancing when opponent Lu Yen-Hsun retired trailing 5-1 with a neck injury.
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