Serena wins first game in 430 days in Toronto

TORONTO, Canada – Serena Williams made a winning comeback at the National Bank Open on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas Diaz 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. The win is Williams’ first singles victory since the 2021 French Open. She will face either Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova in the second round.

Williams is playing her 10th National Bank Open. Having made her main draw debut 22 years ago, Williams has won the title three times in Toronto. In her last appearance, she made the final in 2019, where she was forced to retire against Bianca Andreescu.

Williams has been tested and proven: The last time we saw Williams on the court was in a grueling and dramatic first-round loss at Wimbledon to Harmony Tan. In a match she was apparently in control of, Williams failed to wrap up victory despite twice leading by a break in the final set. But it was his first game in a year. His competitive rust was understandable.

Against Parrizas Diaz, she showed that she had learned her lesson. Despite the seemingly shallow scoreline, the lucky Spanish loser didn’t make the day easy for the 23-time Major champion. In 1 hour and 57 minutes, Parrizas Diaz found the means to test the American’s patience and tolerance in the rally. Williams refused to take the bait.

Williams opened the game with an early 2-0 lead before Parrizas Diaz broke and leveled at 2-2. Both services traded until Williams made it 5-3 and closed the set in an extended service game, converting on her fourth set point.

Williams’ service goes through: Williams was only broken once in the match, with that break coming early in the second set. But she refused to let Parrizas Diaz entertain any notion of a comeback by stifling six break points in three service games in the second set.

The most critical game of the match came with Williams serving at 3-4 in the second set. In the longest game of the match, Williams and Parrizas Diaz exchanged points in a nine-two game, which saw the American save four break points before finally holding.

Although she took care of her serve more effectively in the set, the Spaniard capitulated in the following game. Williams broke on only her second break point of the set and then closed out the win.

Williams finished the match with 32 winners, including seven aces, as well as 29 unforced errors. Parrizas Diaz hit 25 game-winning runs for 18 unforced errors. Williams saved seven of the eight break points she faced in the match.

Williams should take a big confidence boost: Prior to Toronto, Williams spent the week in Washington DC at the Citi Open training grounds. It was evident from the tournament’s social media that she was spending hours in difficult physical conditions.

This work immediately paid off when he won in Toronto. Williams was ready to trade measured shots from the baseline before picking the right shot to trigger. This rally discipline is where Serena is most dangerous, and that only comes when she is confident in her physique.

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