Venus Williams battled through a two hour and 23 minute match to beat Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 at the 2012 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Tuesday. Venus could have closed the match in the second set as she served twice for the win when she was up 5-4 and 6-5. However, Kirilenko forced the match into a third set. Venus kept her stamina up, showing no signs of her physical ailment which took her out of the U.S. Open last year.
Last year, Venus was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, Sjogren's Syndrome, which caused her to pull out of last year's U.S. Open. The disease causes fatigue and joint pain for Venus and makes it difficult for her to play. Along with having to drop out of the U.S. Open, Venus skipped the Australian Open this past January. In March, she went on to reach the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
Her sister and fellow Olympic gold medal winner, Serena Williams also won her match 6-3 6-4 against Eleni Danilidou of Greece. Serena was strong on serve, holding 9 out of 10 service games. On her return however, Williams converted only three of thirteen break points.
Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia defeated China's Zheng Jie 2-6 7-6 6-3 after fighting back in the second set and surviving a match point. Hantuchova will face Italian Sara Errani next. Australian Samantha Stosur came back from a scare in the third set to win against Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-7 6-4. Stosur was down 0-4 in the third before she won the next six games to take the third set and win the match.
In other first round action in Cincinnati, the fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber defeated Timea Babos, 3-6 6-1 6-2, after rallying from a set down. This match makes Kerber the first player to win 50 matches this year. The number eight seed Marion Bartoli fell to Johanna Larson 6-4 6-2. Bartoli hit many errors including 13 double faults during the match.