Venus survives marathon to progress in Cincinnati
Venus Williams survived a real test of her fitness as she overcame Maria Kirilenko to reach the second round at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The world No. 64 continues to battle the debilitating Sjogren's syndrome, having been diagnosed after pulling out of last year's US Open.
Granted a place in the Cincinnati draw as a wildcard, Williams was well on course for victory when she served for the match in the second set, but suffered a wobble before recovering to secure a 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 win in two hours and 27 minutes.
Williams will now face Chanelle Scheepers, who advanced at the expense of American Christina McHale in the first round, after serving 11 aces during her victory.
Venus' sister Serena Williams found the going a little easier against qualifier Eleni Daniilidou, as the second seed brushed aside her Greek opponent 6-3 6-4. Williams launched nine aces, which was matched by as many double faults from an error-prone Daniilidou.
Third seed Sam Stosur battled her way past Anabel Medina Garrigues. The US Open champion failed to take advantage of two break points in the second set before claiming a hard-fought 6-3 (6)6-7 6-4 victory.
Meanwhile, world No. 7 Angelique Kerber progressed to the third round, but it was not all plain sailing for the No. 5 seed, who was forced to battle from a set down to defeat Switzerland's Timea Babos 3-6 6-1 6-2.
Marion Bartoli, though, crashed out in the second round. The eighth seed was humbled 6-4 6-2 by Sweden's Johanna Larsson in under 90 minutes.