Serena Williams overcame a shaky start to make it through the last 16 of the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, while Britain’s Cam Norrie progressed in Lyon.
World No 572 Lisa Pigato produced three superb winners to break the 23-time Grand Slam winner in the first game of their first-round match in Parma but Williams soon recovered.
The 39-year-old American, who added the tournament to her French Open preparations after her early elimination in Rome last week, hit straight back to win 16 of the next 18 points and lead 4-1.
Top seed Williams then eased to a 6-3 6-2 victory in 68 minutes at the expense of the 17-year-old qualifying wildcard.
“Lisa played really well,” said Williams in her on-court interview. “The first game, she played really good and I needed to adjust to get back.
“Her future is super-bright. She handled the moment well, so I look forward to cheering for her in the future.”
Williams will next play Katerina Siniakova following the Czech’s 6-1 6-3 win over Clara Tauson.
This photo is just brilliant! #lisapigato 512 wta ranked Italian Tennis player after the match with the legendary @serenawilliams so great to see! Smiles all round @wta #emiliaromagnaopen ⭐ 🏆 🙌 pic.twitter.com/oJVjWtASCR
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Her sister Venus Williams will go no further, however, as she was beaten 5-7 6-2 6-2 by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia in a tough contest that lasted two hours and 39 minutes.
Sloane Stephens edged her all-American clash with qualifier Caty McNally 7-6 6-4 while seventh-seeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo beat Bernarda Pera 6-4 6-2. Eighth seed Caroline Garcia of France saw off Argentina’s Paula Ormaechea 6-4 6-4.
Norrie will face top seed and world No 4 Dominic Thiem at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon after beating Corentin Moutet in the first round.
The British No 2 was twice a break down in the first set against the Frenchman but hit back to win 7-5 6-3.
Three other French players also went out.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert went down 7-6 6-4 to Sebastian Korda in a match interrupted by rain.
Gilles Simon lost 6-2 6-3 to Aljaz Bedene and Yoshihito Nishioka beat Ugo Humbert 3-6 6-3 6-4.
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So good to see @rogerfederer back on clay 😍
Watch him prepare for his return to action at the @genevaopen 👇
Two seeded French players were beaten at the Geneva Open, although one of them by a countryman.
Eighth seed Adrian Mannarino lost 6-3 6-7 6-3 to Arthur Cazaux, while seventh seed Benoit Paire went out 6-7 7-6 6-4 to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer. Spain’s Pablo Andujar overcame Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-0 6-4.
Top seed Roger Federer returns to action for the first time since March when he takes on Spain’s Pablo Andujar on Tuesday.
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