By Steve Gorten
KEY BISCAYNE – Serena Williams’ first opponent in the 2015 Miami Open on Friday night will be Monica Niculescu.
That was the 27-year-old Romanian’s reward for her 7-6 (1), 6-1 win against American Shelby Rogers in the first round of the women’s singles main draw.
Niculescu, who is ranked 70th in the world, was one of 12 women’s players Tuesday to advance to the second round.
Tereza Smitkova from the Czech Republic made a stunning comeback to win her 1 hour, 45 minute match against Natalia Vikhlyantseva. After being blanked in the first set, Smitkova recovered for an 0-6, 7-5, 6-2 win to set up a second-round meeting with Irina-Camelia Begu, the tournament’s No. 31 seed.
Bojana Jovanovski also needed three sets to advance, beating Mona Barthel of Germany 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. She’ll next play No. 26 seed Elina Svitolina.
A pair of Americans – Madison Brengle and Catherine Bellis – also won Tuesday. Brengle cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 win against Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic and Bellis beat fellow wild-card Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-2.
Brengle will face fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the second round. Bellis next plays No. 29 seed Zarina Diyas.
Also on Tuesday, Anna Schmiedlova beat Polona Hercog 6-3, 6-2, Paula Badosa Gilbert knocked out Petra Cetkovska 6-1, 6-1, Kristina Mladenovic beat Klara Koukalova 6-4, 6-4, Kaia Kanepi eliminated Francoise Abanda 6-2, 6-3, Johanna Larsson edged Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 7-6 (4) and Kurumi Nara beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-3.
Meanwhile, the second round of men’s and women’s singles qualifying also took place at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Nine matches went three sets, including Evgeniya Rodina’s 0-6, 6-4, 6-2 comeback win against Chahelle Scheepers.
American Irina Falconi earned a spot in the women’s main draw with a 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5 win against Denisa Allertova. In men’s qualifying action, Alexander Zverev rallied to top Thiemo De Bakker 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-3, Ruben Bemelmans beat Dustin Brown 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 and Filip Krajinovic took down Omar Jasika 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Other men’s qualifiers to win Tuesday included Alejandro Falla, Michael Berrer, Damir Dzumhur, Adrian Menendez-Macfiras, Robin Haase, Steve Darcis, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and James Duckworth.
The list of women’s qualifiers to earn a spot in the singles main draw included Kateryna Kozlova, Alexandra Dulgheru, Tatjana Maria, Stefanie Voegele, Marina Erakovic, Pauline Parmentier, Timea Babos, Urszula Radwanska and Sesil Karatantcheva.
Playing in her first WTA event, 16-year-old American Ingrid Neel was in contention to win her second match in as many days, but fell to Alison Van Uytvanck 6-7 (7), 4-6.