MIAMI, March 20 World number one Serena Williams overcame a wobbly start to open the defence of her Sony Open crown with a spirited 7-6(9-7) 6-2 win over Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova on Thursday,
A six-time winner on the Miami hardcourts, Williams' second round meeting with the 59th-ranked Shvedova was expected to be little more than a tuneup for the 17-time grand slam winner but for a brief moment the match delivered some unexpected suspense.
"She was doing a little bit of everything," Williams told reporters. "She was hitting hard; she was hitting soft; she was doing a little bit of everything.
"I was making a little more errors than what I should have been making, what I should've made, and that kind of threw me for a loop, as well.
"She was up a break (in the first set) and I started just really trying to fight to make the shots.
"And then when she was serving for the first set I really just tried to be more Serena like."
The contest began with Williams seizing control 3-1 but Shvedova had a sparse centre court crowd buzzing after breaking the American twice on the way to a 5-3 lead.
But with Shvedova serving for the match, Williams showed why she is the sport's dominant player breaking her opponent and forcing the opening set to a tiebreak.
In the tiebreak, Shvedova, who had never taken a set off Williams in three previous meetings, surged ahead 6-3 but then crumbled under the mounting pressure, double-faulting before the defending champion blasted a pair of aces past her.
Williams then clinched the set in emphatic fashion, a crushing forehand followed by an equally forceful fist-pump.
"It felt really good, relieved is a good word," said Williams about pulling out the first set win. "I felt really relieved to finish it and to get on with the second set.
"It was a little over an hour, and I was ready to move on. I was kind of over it.
"I was like, win, lose or draw, let's start the next set."
After trading breaks to open the second set, Shvedova would hold serve before a focused Williams moved in for the kill, sweeping the next five games to secure passage to the next round.
"It's definitely going to help, knowing that I was able to pull that through after being down pretty drastically," said Williams.
Williams will now face Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia who advanced to the third round with a 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3) upset of 27th seed Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic. (Editing by Ian Ransom)