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Williams shrugs off slow start to speed into third round

Mar 20, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Serena Williams waves to the crowd after her match against Yaroslava Shvedova (not pictured) on day four of th
Mar 20, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Serena Williams waves to the crowd after her match against Yaroslava Shvedova (not pictured) on day four of th

By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) - 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)

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