CINCINNATI - Former world number one Venus Williams, playing what she called smart tennis, beat defending champion Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in three sets in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday. "I just tried not to go too big, because I can go so big and I have a lot of power and it's not always easy to control it," Williams said after the 6-3 3-6 7-6(4) victory. "So I'm trying to play smart instead of going hog wild, which is extremely easy to do."
Williams surged ahead 3-0 in the third set thanks to some excellent volleying but struggled to put away Bertens as she committed numerous errors when serving for the match at 5-3.
Bertens held at 5-5 and then forced a tie-break with an ace.
Williams, however, took control of the tie-break, moving ahead 3-0 and 6-2 before sealing the win.
Germany's 13th seed Angelique Kerber also exited the tournament when she lost to Estonia's Anett Kontaveit 7-6(7) 6-2.
The 23-year-old Kontaveit came from 5-3 down and saved a set point at 6-5 in the opening set against the former world number one.
She broke Kerber twice to win the second set, winning the first nine points, and two holds to love gave her a 4-0 lead.
Swiss 12th seed Belinda Bencic retired with a foot injury when trailing Victoria Azarenka 6-4 1-0.
Former world number one Azarenka will face Donna Vekic in the second round after the Croatian beat Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-3.
American Madison Keys also beat fellow big hitter Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-4.
Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova wasted little time in beating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4 6-1 in 56 minutes while China's Zheng Saisai beat Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia 6-3 6-1.
Serena Williams is scheduled to play later on Tuesday against Kazakh Zarina Diyas.
The 10th-seeded American had withdrawn from the Rogers Cup final in Toronto on Sunday due to back spasms.