Reigning champ Venus moves on in Dubai

Dubai, United Arab Emirates ( – Defending champion Venus
Williams was an easy second-round winner at the $2.5 million Dubai Tennis

The eighth-seeded former world No. 1 whipped young Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-1,
6-2 in 69 minutes at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre.

“I’m pleased to have been able to get into a position to win some matches”
said Williams, who has won 10 out of 11 so far this year. “Once you win some
it helps you to have that momentum.

“My strategy is a lot better than five or six years ago, and now I have a
backhand slice and actually start to use it, even when I’m not playing

The three-time Dubai winner Williams defeated France’s Alize Cornet in last
year’s finale.

Three seeds posted opening-round wins on Day 2, as No. 11 Czech Lucie Safarova
handled Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 6-1, 6-4, No. 16 Chinese Peng Shuai doused
Russian lucky loser Elena Vesnina 7-5, 6-1 and No. 17 rising Czech Karolina
Pliskova leveled Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-4.

Several other women notched first-round wins, including Czech Barbora
Zahlavova Strycova, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, Italian Camila Giorgi, and wild
card and last week’s Thailand Open champion Daniela Hantuchova, who edged out
German Mona Barthel 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3 to set-up a second-rounder with top
seed Simona Halep here on Tuesday.

In addition to Halep, second-seeded Wimbledon champion and 2013 Dubai champ
Petra Kvitova, third-seeded U.S. Open runner-up and 2011 Dubai titlist
Caroline Wozniacki, fourth-seeded former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, and
fifth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up and 2012 Dubai winner Agnieszka
Radwanska will take to the courts for second-round affairs.

The 2015 Dubai champion will claim $456,000.