CHARLESTON (Reuters) – Second seed Monica Seles struggled to victory in her opening match at the Family Circle Cup on Tuesday, as third seed Serena Williams barely broke into a sweat to advance in straight sets. Seles spent one hour 46 minutes battling fellow American Amy Frazier before closing out the second round match by a 4-6 6-3 6-0 margin.
“I was a little bit hesitant in the beginning and couldn’t find my form,” said Seles, who trailed 5-0 in the first set before picking up her game.
“But I hung in there and I turned things around.”
By contrast, Williams never offered American Jennifer Hopkins an opportunity to turn anything around in her 6-0 6-2 victory that took just 40 minutes to complete.
“I’m satisfied,” Williams said. “I played pretty well out there. It seems like I hit a lot of winners and normally you don’t do that on clay.”
Williams was nearly flawless in the first set, dominating Hopkins to the point she only lost six of 30 points played.
In the second set, Williams went ahead 3-0 before Hopkins held serve in the fourth and sixth games.
Top-seeded Jennifer Capriati begins the defense of her Charleston title against Slovakia’s Janette Husarova on Wednesday.
Anna Kournikova tried to prevent Conchita Martinez from posting a 30th birthday victory, but wilted after a tight first set to give the Spaniard a 7-6 6-1 present.
Despite the loss, the Russian player was happy with her performance and believes she is making progress after sitting out most of last year with a stress fracture to her left foot.
“Today was the best match that I played in the last four tournaments and especially against Conchita,” Kournikova said.
“She’s an experienced player on clay. So I’m definitely happy with the progress I’ve made.”
Neither player seemed capable of holding serve in the first set as both Kournikova and Martinez swapped breaks for five straight games.
Kournikova started the tiebreak on the wrong foot by double faulting on the first point.
Although the Russian competed in most of the rallies, it was clear that the Spaniard was going to be the tougher competitor.
After Kournikova flung a backhand long to lose the last point of the first set, the match was always heading in Martinez’s direction.
“It was very important to win that first set,” Martinez said. “I felt we were not playing our best tennis and after I won the opener she seemed to fall away.”