KEY BISCAYNE: Playing again at No 1, Serena Williams routed Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-1, 6-1 on Thursday in the second round of the Sony Open.
Williams is playing her first tournament since she regained the No 1 ranking at the Qatar Open. Williams lost the Doha final to Victoria Azarenka, but overtook her for the top ranking the week of February 11. Williams trailed 40-0 in the first and fifth games in the first set, but went on to hold serve both times. In the first game, she uncharacteristically double-faulted on the first and third points.
Venus Williams had a much tougher road to the third round than her younger sister. The 18th-ranked Venus Williams eventually prevailed 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 over 78th-ranked Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, at 42 the oldest player on the women's tour.
In a match that kept fans cheering for 2 hours, 31 minutes, the 32-year-old Venus Williams finally took advantage of her match point. At ad-out with Date-Krumm serving at 4-5, Venus Williams hit a winning backhand passing shot down the line.
Date-Krumm saved six match points — one on her own serve in the eighth game, and then five when Venus was serving for the match at 5-3. "The toughest part is when you reach the finish line and you're not able to get across," Venus said. Venus will play Sloane Stephens, who rallied to beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus 0-6, 6-4, 6-4. Stephens is ranked 16th, the highest-ranked American after Williams.
Stephens won only four points in her three service games and 10 points overall in the opening set. Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, the defending champion who is seeded fourth, defeated Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3, 6-2.