China's Zhang puts herself in Serena's path

20 Mar 2012 20:48

Serena Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion who has not played a WTA event since a fourth-round Australian Open loss, will face China's Zhang Shuai in her first match at the WTA Miami hardcourt event.

Five-time Miami winner Williams, the 10th seed on the women's side of the $9.6 million event played in conjunction with an ATP tournament, learned her opponent on Tuesday after the start of play in the two-week event.

Zhang rallied to eliminate Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-2 in an opening-round match to book a date with former World No. 1 Williams, who has been sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Williams, 30, has played in only two tournaments this year. She withdrew before her Brisbane quarter-final match because of the left ankle injury.

After losing to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova in the round of 16 at Melbourne, Williams saw her only action in winning two singles ties for the United States in a 5-0 Fed Cup World Group II victory over Belarus last month.

Should Williams defeat Zhang, she would next face either Italy's Roberta Vinci or Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova, who ousted Croatian Petra Martic 6-3, 6-2, in another first-round Miami match on Tuesday.

Among the others to advance was Makarova, who eliminated Australian Jelena Dokic 6-1, 7-5.