Following an emotional fortnight at Indian Wells, where she was competing for the first time I 14 years, Serena Williams will return to Miami, where she is a renowned champion. The top seed will begin her campaign against Monica Niculescu in the second round of the tournament, whom she encountered in the second round at Indian Wells less than two weeks ago. Williams leads the head-to-head series 1-0.
Following a 19th Grand Slam title win at the Australian Open, and a successful foay at the Fed Cup, Williams ventured to the American desert for the first time since 2001, and reached the semi-final stage of the tournament, where she was forced to withdraw from the event with an injury.
In her opening match in Miami, Niculescu faced a resilient Shelby Rogers, whom she defeated in straight sets after a competitive opening frame. After the first set ended in a tiebreak in one hour and 4 minutes, the Romanian breezed through the second set and won the match 7-6(1), 6-1. She will now come up against Williams, whom she pushed to a respectable 7-5, 6-5 scoreline in their only previous meeting.
“She’s an amazing player,” the Romanian commented. “When she’s tossing the ball to serve, you cannot see exactly where she’ll be hitting it. So I was guessing. Just guessing. That’s why she hit so many aces. I was trying to put all the balls back, but she was acing me all the time. It wasn’t easy.”
This marks the second time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, with the American leading the head-to-head series 1-0. Given that this tournament does not come with the pressure that she felt a few weeks ago, Williams be a heavy favourite to win the match and advance to the third round of the tournament.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Straight Sets
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