Williams leaves it late but gets opening 2007 clay win
May 16, 2007 - 1:10:22 PM

Rome, May 16 - Former champion Serena Williams began her delayed clay season with a 6-4, 6-1 win over teenaged Michaella Krajicek to advance to the third round of the Italian Open.

The American former No.1, now seeded eighth due to a ranking which she is currently rehabilitating, recovered from 1-3 down in the opening set Tuesday and was never again challenged.

Williams, 25, has only played in three other events this season, but is coming off of wins at her last two, the Australian Open and Miami.

The American, who has battled injuries in recent years, seems determined to make an impression this season.

'I've never felt like I reached my full potential on the clay courts,' said the 2002 Rome champion, who last played the event in 2005, losing an opening match to local Francesca Schiavone.

'I feel I can do a lot better on the clay than I have in the past. For the next several years I think I can do a lot better,' she said.

Williams improved to 17-2 on the season as she played on red clay for the first time in 2007.

The tournament lost two more seeds as number four Nicole Vaidisova and number 12 Serb Ana Ivanovic both pulled out before their matches.

Vaidisova quit to rest tendonitis, missing her second event in a row on clay while Ivanovic, who won Berlin last week, is dealing with an ankle injury.

Maria Sharapova and holder Martina Hingis pulled out last week with injuries while number one Justine Henin is resting.

Samantha Stosur lined up as an opening opponent for top seed Amelie Mauresmo with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Italy's Schiavone in the first round.

Mauresmo, playing only her second event after appendix surgery in March, will begin after a bye given to all the eight leading seeds.

The French world number four boasts a clean slate against the 29th-ranked Stosur through a 5-0 record without the loss of a set.

The pair played at the Foro Italico in the 2005 second round, with Mauresmo winning 6-2, 6-0.

Schiavone, now 26th after standing on the brink of the Top 10 a year and a half ago, was unable to get started on her home clay.

Stosur, never past the Rome second round, got into position in the second set as the Italian dropped serve in the ninth game thanks in part to a pair of double-faults.

There were first-round wins for three other seeds in action, with Patty Schnyder, Katarina Srebotnik and Italy's Tathiana Garbin all advancing.

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