Three-time winner Serena Williams moved into the Toronto Open second round with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz on Monday while Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Simona Halep also advanced.
Williams, in only her second singles match since returning to action at Wimbledon in June after a year-long absence from competition, was forced to dig deep during a nearly two-hour match played in hot and humid conditions.
One of 14 major winners in the main draw of an event that is a tune-up for the US Open, Williams clinched the opener on her fourth set point with a vintage smash that Parrizas Diaz had no chance of returning.
The second set was a much tighter affair and Williams did well to hold serve in a physically demanding 18-minute game during which she used her power to fight off four break points to get to 4-4.
Williams then broke her opponent after Parrizas Diaz sent a backhand wide and went on to serve out the match for her first singles victory since the 2021 French Open.
Romanian 15th seed Halep, who retired from her second-round match last week in Washington due to illness, needed just 61 minutes to secure a 6-0, 6-2 win over Croatia’s Donna Vekic.
Halep breezed through the first set in 21 minutes and never looked back as Vekic grew more frustrated as the match wore on.
“It’s not about the result, it’s more about how I played,” Halep, who did not face a break point, said during her on-court interview. “I’ve been very aggressive and I played fast so that’s my goal and I am trying to do that every day.”
Rybakina, who followed her Wimbledon triumph with a first-round exit at San Jose last week, beat Czech Marie Bouzkova 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-1 to secure her first win as a Grand Slam champion.