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Serena survives scare to advance in Miami

Serena Williams (pictured January 2019) is playing in just her third tournament of 2019 having lost in the Australian Open quarter-finals before retiring in the second set of her third-round match in Indian Wells because of an illness (AFP Photo/Paul Crock)

Miami (AFP) - Serena Williams survived a scare in her opening match of the WTA and ATP Miami Open Friday, emphatically losing the second set before seeing off Sweden's Rebecca Peterson 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion is playing in just her third tournament of 2019 having lost in the Australian Open quarter-finals before retiring in the second set of her third-round match in Indian Wells against Garbine Muguruza because of a viral illness.

It was far from a vintage performance from the American, an eight time winner in Miami, but she was just relieved to make it through to the third round where she will meet China’s Wang Qiang who thrashed Britain’s Jo Konta, the 2017 Miami Open champion, 6-4 6-0.

"I love playing in Miami," said Williams, who lives north of the Hard Rock Stadium in Palm Beach Gardens.

"I live so close to here so it's nice to play at home. I know I can play better than this though."

The former world number one was certainly rusty in her first ever match against the 63rd-ranked Swede, despite starting strongly and easing into a first set lead.

Peterson, however, who lost in the first round in Indian Wells, produced some excellent tennis in the second and managed to break down Williams's serve to take the match into a deciding set.

As the South Florida sun began to lower, Williams appeared to struggle with her ball toss.

But the 37-year-old's power and poise was simply too much for her opponent to handle in the decisive set.