Venus moves on in Qatar

Doha, Qatar ( – Venus Williams was a second-round winner
Tuesday at the Qatar Open tennis event.

The seventh-seeded Williams outlasted Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 7-5,
3-6, 7-6 (7-5) in a match that lasted almost three hours on the hardcourts at
Khalifa International Tennis Complex.

Williams seemed headed for a routine victory early on in the third set,
building a 5-3 lead. But Zahlavova Strycova won three straight games to go up
6-5, and in that game she even brought up a match point with Williams serving
at 30-40.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams won three points in a row to dig
out of that game and then won in the tiebreaker.

First-round play concluded Tuesday and winners included sixth-seeded Andrea
Petkovic of Germany and Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic.

Petkovic, who won the Antwerp title earlier this month, rallied for a 6-7
(5-7), 6-3, 6-2 win over Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens and will next play
Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Tunisian wild card Ons
Jabeur. Diyas beat Petkovic last week in Dubai.

Jankovic eased past Chinese lucky loser Zheng Saisai, 6-0, 6-2, for just her
second win of 2015. The former U.S. Open runner-up was a first-round loser in
Brisbane and at the Australian Open before a second-round exit last week in

It won’t get any easier for Jankovic in round two, as a meeting with top seed
Petra Kvitova awaits.

Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain advanced when doubles partner Garbine Muguruza
retired in the first set with an illness. Suarez Navarro, given this week’s
ninth seed after the withdrawal of second-seeded Simona Halep, will next face
rising star Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Pliskova, a finalist in Sydney and last week’s runner-up to Halep in Dubai,
moved on with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 triumph Tuesday against Swiss qualifier
Stefanie Voegele.

Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine outlasted Russian qualifier Daria Gavrilova in
three sets to set up a second-round match with two-time Doha champion Victoria

Romanian qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru also went the distance in a three-set
win over Frenchwoman Alize Cornet and will meet third-seeded Caroline
Wozniacki in the second round.

The 2015 Doha titlist will claim $124,000.