Serena Williams Relies On Experience To Win Auckland Opener

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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 03: Serena Williams of USA serves in her match against Pauline Parmentier of France on day two of the ASB Classic on January 3, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)

Serena Williams notched her first win on New Zealand soil as rain managed to once again play a part on day two of the ASB Classic in Auckland, the tournaments most action-packed day in history.

Serena Williams Beats Pauline Parmentier To Advance

The big drawcard at the ASB Classic, Serena Williams, got her tournament underway with a testing win over Frenchwoman Pauline Parmerntier.

The match, which had been due to take place on Monday evening before being suspended due to rain, lasted over an hour in front of a sold out ASB Tennis Centre in Auckland.

Williams won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, but it was by no means a cakewalk. The No.2 ranked women’s player in the world looked rusty out of the blocks, allowing Parmentier to shoot out to a two game lead. But when Williams managed to break Parmentier’s serve, the crowd-favorite won two-games on the trot to regain control of the opening set.

Williams stormed back to win the First Set 6-3, a fine recovery after what was a lackluster start. Parmentier couldn’t match Williams’ power game, but she was agile on court, able to get back deep and continue rally’s. But Williams’ class began to show itself and a handful of terrific aces saw the tournament favorite win the First Set 6-3.

Parmentier managed to claw back a brief lead in the Second Set, but she was clearly tiring. The Frenchwoman lost her lead just as quickly with several unforced errors in the next game, blowing a three-point break.

Williams never looked back after regaining the lead finished off the Second Set 6-4 to take the match.

Compared to Williams’ current ranking, Parmentier sits at World No.69, with two WTA titles under her belt. Williams has 71 tour titles to her name, and vastly more experience in big tournaments.

Williams Admits To Early Rust In Auckland

Despite her victory in the First Round, Williams admitted it was far from her best performance. Heavy winds were a factor, but Williams said that the key to victory was knowing how to get back into the game.

You always feel a little rusty going out there for your first game. I felt that rust, but mentally I knew how to get back into the match.

Wanting to keep a low profile since arriving in New Zealand on Friday, Williams took in some of the local sites in between practice over the weekend.

Plans For Roof In Future ASB Classic Tournaments Revealed

With much of the opening day rained out at the ASB Classic, Tennis Auckland have revealed that plans to weather-proof the ASB Tennis Arena are progressing well. Nearly 60% of funds have been secured, with Tennis Auckland hoping to raise $18.5m for the roof.

Plans are in place to complete design work, but Tennis Auckland CEO Brent Robinson says a potential build at the venue won’t take place until after next years event.

It is critical that we meet this timeline. We have to time the project very carefully, so it doesn’t impact on the hugely successful ASB Classic each January, and for this to happen we need to confirm our funding in the coming months.

Other Results On Day Two

Rising Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka returned to her match against Annika Beck after being suspended with a set advantage due to rain. When action resumed, Osaka looked the goods again, winning the second set 6-4 to clinch the match and advance.

Fellow tournament favorites Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams were also in action on Centre Court.

With heavy clouds hanging overhead, Wozniacki showed every sign of being a front-runner at the ASB Classic with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-0 win over American Nicole Gibbs. The World No.19 took care of her opponent in just 57-minutes in the dominant straight sets victory.

Rain returned to spoil the evenings festivities. Venus Williams had got her match underway against kiwi wildcard Jade Lewis, and the First Set was tied 2-2 when play was suspended.

Barbora Strycova, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Lauren Davis, Ana Konjuh, Madison Brengle, Janina Wickmayer, Varvara Lepchenko, and Jelena Ostapenko all advanced as well. Brengle draws Serena in round 2, Lucie Safarova will face Strycova, Konjuh faces Wozniacki next, Venus draws Osaka, Lepchenko will try to knock off Wozniacki, and Davis faces Karumi Nara.

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