• Dubai Tennis Championships

Serena digs deep in Dubai

ESPN staff
February 18, 2014
Serena Williams asked for a wildcard to the event © Getty Images

World No.1 Serena Williams was given a stern test on her return to the circuit after beating Ekaterina Makarova 7-6(8) 6-0 to reach the third round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Williams has not played since being stunned at the Australian Open in the fourth round, and asked for a wildcard to the event because she was bored of practicing.

But she showed signs of rustiness during the encounter, with Makarova dominating the early exchanges to open up a 2-0 advantage.

Trailing 5-3, Williams received a warning for smashing her racquet, and the moment of madness inspired her as she recovered to 5-5, before the first set was decided on a tiebreak. Williams saved two set points in a topsy-turvy tiebreak en route to claiming it 10-8 in an hour and six minutes.

By not converting her opportunities, Makarova fell apart as Williams stormed to the victory to record a 6-0 thrashing in the second set to clinch the win.

"It was really exciting. That first set was so tough. It was definitely a good match," Williams said on court. "I don't know what the difference was [in the tiebreak]. I just kept fighting and did the best I could."

Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki came through a tough encounter against last year's Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, winning 2-6 6-3 6-3. Ana Ivanovic survived a match point to get the better of Angelique Kerber 3-6 6-3 7-6(6), but former US Open champion Sam Stosur was sent packing after losing 1-6 6-1 6-4 to Annika Beck.

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