INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Playing just her seventh match of the year, Venus Williams rallied to beat Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
The match featured two former top-10 players who have fallen in the rankings. Williams is No. 36 in the world; Petkovic is 68th. The women met for the first time in five years.
Williams needed nearly two hours to advance and next plays third-seeded Petra Kvitova, runner-up to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open in January.
Williams’ younger sister, Serena, received a first-round bye and will play Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of the 2016 final in the Southern California desert. Azarenka won that year, the last time the two major champions met.
Other winners in the women’s draw were American Madison Brengle, Kristina Mladenovic and Yulia Putintseva.
Men’s play began Thursday, with Philipp Kohlschreiber defeating Pierre-Hugues Hebert 6-4, 6-0.
STRASBOURG, France (AP) Top-seeded Ashleigh Barty withdrew from the Internationaux de Strasbourg clay-court tournament on Tuesday because of a right arm injury.
Barty was replaced in the main draw by lucky loser Diana Marcinkevica.
The eighth-ranked Australian said she would not take any risk ahead of the French Open, which starts Sunday in Paris.
“I gave it my best chance, but unfortunately I wouldn’t be playing my best tennis,” Barty said. “I’m busy the next two months and I need to look after my body now.”
GENEVA (AP) Former top-10 player Janko Tipsarevic used his wild-card entry to beat Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 7-5, 7-5 in the Geneva Open first round on Monday.
Now ranked No. 317, the 34-year-old Tipsarevic is back in ATP Tour main draws after missing the 2018 season for hamstring injuries to heal.
Fifth-seeded Radu Albot advanced to the second round on a day when two seeded players lost in the final week of clay-court warmups for the French Open.
Albot beat qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), after 92nd-ranked Hugo Dellien beat eighth-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, and seventh-seeded Matthew Ebden lost to Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Rain cut short play and gave former No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov a day off after playing through two qualifying rounds.
More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports