American Venus Williams knocked out No. 16 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-4, 7-5 in their first-round match at the Western & Southern Open on Monday in Cincinnati.
Williams, 43, was awarded a wild-card entry into the U.S. Open tune-up and took advantage. Her victory in one hour and 57 minutes was the highlight of the afternoon before a weather delay interrupted the tournament Monday evening.
Kudermetova held a 4-1 lead in both sets before Williams stormed back in each. Williams saved two set points after being down 5-2 in the second set en route to winning the last six games of the match.
"It was definitely different (to play from behind)," Williams told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "But that's tennis and that's what's so exciting ... the satisfaction from (Monday) is just all the work that goes into just being here at all."
Williams won 29 of her 45 first-service points (64.4 percent) and converted six of nine break-point opportunities to earn her first win over a top-20 opponent in four years.
The former World No. 1, who has never won the Western & Southern Open, will face the winner between China's Qinwen Zheng and Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the next round.
Another American, Sloane Stephens, cruised past Italy's Elisabetta Cocciaretto 7-5, 6-2 in 76 minutes.
Stephens saved three of five break points while breaking Cocciaretto's serve five times in eight chances. Stephens also won an overwhelming 13 of her 18 second-service points (72.2 percent).
In the second round, Stephens will draw No. 6 seed Caroline Garcia of France.
"Super excited," the 2017 U.S. Open champion said of facing Garcia. "Obviously I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I'm just going to go out and play my best and compete well and hard, and play my game."
Italian Jasmine Paolini swept past Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-1 in just 61 minutes. Anastasia Potapova of Russia rallied to beat Celine Naef of Switzerland 1-6, 6-4, 7-5, while Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina beat China's Lin Zhu 6-3, 7-5.
No. 12 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil led Czech foe Karolina Muchova 3-2 in the first set of their first-round meeting when a weather delay began. The Zheng-Sasnovich match and an all-Czech battle between No. 10 seed Marketa Vondrousova and Katerina Siniakova were also part of the schedule for Monday night.
—Field Level Media