March 28, 2017 / 5:26 AM / in 8 months

Venus all smiles after straight sets win

REUTERS - Venus Williams had every reason to smile on Monday as she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 7-6(4) to advance to the quarter-finals at the Miami Open.

Mar 27, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Venus Williams of the United States hits a backhand against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia (not pictured) on day seven of the 2017 Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Williams won 6-3, 7-6(4). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Williams, who will next play Angelique Kerber after the top seed cruised by Japanese qualifier Risa Ozaki 6-2 6-2, is a three-time champion in Miami and first played in the tournament as a 16-year-old.

“I was still in braces, it’s been a long time,” she said in a post-match interview.

The 36-year-old delivered exquisite shot-making during a rally on match point to eliminate the twice major champion Kuznetsova.

Her next opponent Kerber was barely tested in her 62-minute match, feasting off her opponents’ serve, while second seed Karolina Pliskova also reached the quarter-finals as she beat 15th-seeded Czech compatriot Barbora Strycova 6-1 6-4.

Pliskova cruised through the first set in 22 minutes and looked ready to wrap up a quick victory when she went ahead 5-2 in the second but Strycova found life late in the match breaking Pliskova then holding at love. Pliskova recovered to take the final game.

Mar 27, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia hits a forehand against Venus Williams of the United States (not pictured) on day seven of the 2017 Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Williams won 6-3, 7-6(4). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

French Open champion Garbine Muguruza retired from her match with Caroline Wozniacki after dropping the first set. The sixth seed took a medical timeout after dropping the first set 7-6(1) to Wozniacki and decided she was unable to continue.

“I started normal, and then like at 3-3 or something like this I started to feel headache, pain in my stomach,“ Muguruza said. ”And then it kind of went more and more during the match.

”When I was getting to the 5-4, something like this, I started to feel a little bit dizzy. I think it was the heat? The heat affected me suddenly like that.”

Wozniacki has now advanced to her sixth quarter-final in seven 2017 events.

In other women’s matches, third seed Simona Halep overcame Australian Samantha Stosur 4-6 7-5 6-2, and former Czech world number five Lucie Safarova beat Slovakian fourth seed Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(5) 6-1 to reach the last eight.

For unseeded Safarova, who is on the comeback trail from a bacterial infection that hampered her for parts of the past two seasons, the win marked her first top-10 victory since 2015.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, additional reporting by Jahmal Corner, Editing by Steve Keating/Peter Rutherford

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