Williams rebounds from worst loss to advance in Cincy tennis

CINCINNATI: Serena Williams re-established her customary superiority, hammering Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-2 to reach the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Monday.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion showed full recovery in her first match since suffering the worst defeat of her career two weeks ago in San Jose when she was crushed 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes by British No. 1 Johanna Konta.

But the 36-year-old was all business Monday as she cleaned up on Australian Gavrilova, with Williams winning an 11th straight match here.

Though she has not played the tournament in three years, Williams lifted back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 after losing 2013 final to Victoria Azarenka.

Andy Murray's injury comeback was sidetracked as the three-time Grand Slam champion lost 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to Lucas Pouille.

Murray, returning from Jan hip surgery, was unable to get past the French 16th seed, hampering his preparations for the US Open starting on Aug 27

“Physically, I felt okay. It's quick conditions here,” Murray said. “He was a little bit sharper than me out there.

“I maybe wasn't reacting as quickly to some shots I would have liked.

Murray last played 11 days ago in a Washington third-round match which took him three hours to win and ended at 3 a.m.

The 31-year-old two-time Wimbledon winner is working his way back slowly and felt he could not subject his body to a quarter-final just over 12 hours later, prompting him to withdraw from that event.

“After Washington, I took four, five days off the tennis court. I did a lot of training, a lot of rehab.

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“As the year goes on, I'll be able to get a little bit more consistency like on the practice court and on the tennis court”.

Pouille had lost his previous three matches to Murray, the last at Dubai in 2017.

Spanish 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta started his week with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 defeat of France's Richard Gasquet, while Japan's Kei Nishikori put out Russian Andrey Rublev, 7-5, 6-3.

Peter Gojowczyk of Germany defeated Joao Sousa 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 and will next line up against seven-time winner Roger Federer, at second the highest seed in the field after the precautionary withdrawal of Rafael Nadal.

Canadian Denis Shapovalov beat US tournament debutant Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 7-5

French players beat a Spanish duo with Benoit Paire accounting for David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2 while Jeremy Chardy thumped Fernando Verdasco with the loss of three games.

Sam Querrey beat ninth-seeded American compatriot John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5).

In the women's first round, Azarenka made her first appearance here since 2015 count as she defeated Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-4.

Double Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova continued her 2017 injury comeback, beating Swiss Stefanie Voegele 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5).

US Open finalist Madison Keys, seeded 13th, defeated wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4; France's Kristina Mladenovic advanced when Julia Goerges retired hurt trailing 6-4, 3-2. — AFP