BANGALORE (Reuters) - American world number 11 Serena Williams warmed up after a month-long break by beating Israeli Tzipora Obziler 7-5 6-0 at the Bangalore Open on Wednesday.
The former world number one, who was given a first round bye, advanced to the quarter-finals but was far from her dominant self in the opening set of her second-round victory.
Fourth seeded Swiss Patty Schnyder also moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-7 6-4 6-2 victory over Japan’s Aiko Nakamura.
Williams, who withdrew from tournaments in February to recover from gum surgery, had trouble with her service games early on against 117th-ranked Obziler, who focused on keeping the ball in play.
“I started making so many errors and the balls kept flying about there,” Williams told a news conference.
“She definitely did not give a lot of pace. She would hit a hard ball and the next point hit a soft ball. I didn’t get a rhythm,” added Williams, who is making her first appearance in India.
Replacing her baseball cap with a bandana did not help third-seeded Williams, 26, nor did a change of rackets, as she was stretched in the opening set of her first outing since her Australian Open quarter-final defeat.
Obziler broke her twice but Williams, drawing on her experience, broke back immediately both times.
The American admonished herself for her faulty serves in the 11th game which she just about managed to hold and wrapped up the set in the next game with a classic forehand down the line.
Williams, winner of eight grand slam singles titles, found her touch in the second set.
Williams will next meet Russian Anastasia Rodionova, who beat sixth-seeded Austrian Sybille Bammer 7-6 6-2 in the second round.
In the day’s other upset, Uzbek Akgul Amanmuradova, who knocked out defending champion Yaroslava Shvedova in the first round, beat fifth-seeded Hungarian Agnes Szavay 4-6 7-6 6-4.
Amanmuradova will meet world number 12 Schnyder in the quarter-finals.
Left-handed Schnyder was stretched by Nakamura in a match lasting nearly two hours.
“The first hour I didn’t feel comfortable at all but pushed her to the tiebreaker,” Schnyder said.
“I served better in the second. Then I had to fight to win. “She played flat with no spin. That makes it tough to handle the balls.”