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By Chris Oddo | Wednesday, July 30, 2014

 
Serena Williams, Stanford 2014

Serena Williams played her first competitive tennis since Wimbledon, outgunning Karolina Pliskova, 7-5, 6-2, at Stanford.

Photo Source: AP

Serena Williams made her return to tennis at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford on Wednesday evening, weathering a tough test from hard-serving Karolina Pliskova to prevail, 7-5, 6-2.

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Playing her first competitive singles match since her third round exit at Wimbledon, Williams didn’t have much time to shake off the rust, as Pliskova earned break points in Williams’ first service game of the night and routinely hammered big serve after big serve in the first set, staying level with the two-time Stanford champion all the way to 5-all.

But Pliskova’s strong start was soon a distant memory, as a focused and fit Williams took advantage of her opportunities to reel off five straight games to take control of the match.

“She served really, really well,” said Williams. “I was just trying to hang in there, trying to get some break points if I could, and I knew if I did I wanted to do my best to convert those. I had to be really focused tonight in that aspect.”

Williams converted on all three break points she saw, and saved all three she faced, a perfect recipe for a satisfying victory for the world No. 1 as she begins to ramp up her game, and hopefully confidence, on the hard courts.

“I think I played really well,” Williams said. “I’m on the right path, I’m working on some new things and I’m excited, so I’m really looking forward to my next match.”

Williams will face either Ana Ivanovic or qualifier Carol Zhao on Friday in the quarterfinals.

Elsewhere in Stanford, second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska was knocked off by American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. The loss marks the fourth straight event in which Radwanska has failed to make the quarterfinals.

Notes, Numbers:

19-year-old American qualifier Sachia Vickery reached her first tour-level quarterfinal with a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1 victory over Monica Puig.

Lepchenko’s win over Radwanska was her first victory against the Pole in six career meetings.

Andrea Petkovic reached the quarterfinals by defeating 16-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka of Japan. Petkovic is making her first appearance at Stanford.

 

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