Dubai, United Arab Emirates (4E Sports) – Venus Williams made a triumphant return at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, ousting Elena Vesnina, 6-3, 6-2, in the first round Monday.
Williams blasted 10 aces and broke serve four times en route to the easy victory.
“The last couple matches I played against her, at Wimbledon she played so well and it wasn’t my day, and Cincy as well – I had some chances there but she was clearly more on her game,” Williams said.
Williams conquered Dubai in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010, but had to miss the last three years due to illness and injury.
After her win over Vesnina, she has now won 11 matches in a row here, and 22 of 23 sets in that stretch, dropping just one set to Serena Williams in the 2009 semifinals.
Other winners were Carla Suárez Navarro, Ekaterina Makarova, Sorana Cirstea and Lucie Safarova. Safarova won 10 points in a row at the end to finish off Sloane Stephens in a tight two-setter, 6-3, 7-5.
Flavia Pennetta, Annika Beck, Karolina Pliskova and Maryna Zanevska secured spots in the main draw with wins in the final round of qualifying.
Beck, who turned 20 on Sunday, beat world No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard, 6-1, 6-4, for her first Top 20 win.
At the Rio Open, Nastassja Burnett defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round against Alison Van Uytvanck, who breezed past Johanna Larsson, 6-4, 6-3. Other winners were Kiki Bertens and Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
On the men’s side of the event, first-round winners were Martin Klizan, Facundo Bagnis and Dusan Lajovic.
Meanwhile, Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic set a second-round meeting with top-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet after opening main draw proceedings at the Open 13 in Marseille with a 6-4, 6-2 win over 17-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Kavcic saved all three break points faced on serve, while capitalizing on three of his five opportunities to move within two match wins of 50 in his career.