Cincinnati: In her final tune-up tournament before the U.S. Open, Serena Williams put herself back on the winning track with a 7-5 6-3 win over Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in her opening match at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday.
Williams prevailed in 90 minutes and showed none of the rare struggles that dogged her during last week`s semi-final loss to Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic in Toronto.
The defending Cincinnati champion, who will aim for a rare sweep of the four grand slam events at the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 U.S. Open, broke Pironkova`s serve once in each set and then sealed the win in style with her 15th ace of the match.
"There wasn`t anything really tactical in particular for me today, I always just try to play my game and be consistent and stay focussed,” Williams, who improved to 44-2 in 2015, said in a courtside interview.
The American world number one will meet Italian Karin Knapp in the third round. Knapp beat Russian Daria Gavrilova 6-4 6-1.
Williams is skipping next week`s Connecticut Open in order to prepare for the U.S. Open, where she will look to earn her fifth consecutive grand slam singles title and fourth of 2015.
"There`s definitely a lot of pressure ... I would like to win the Open, probably more than anyone else," said Williams.
"Whether I do or not, I`m going to try win it this year or next year and just keep going for that. So, it`s not the end of the world."
In other women`s action Romanian third seed Simona Halep beat Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 5-7 6-4 while Czech seventh seed Lucie Safarova advanced with a 6-4 7-5 win over American wild card Coco Vandeweghe.