DOHAC - Serena Williams has moved to within two wins of becoming world number one for the first time in two-and-a-half years after reaching the third round of the Qatar Open in Doha.
The Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic champion showed no obvious signs of physical discomfort yesterday during a 6-2 6-1 win over Daria Gavrilova, the 18-year-old former world number one junior from Russia who had reached the main draw as a lucky loser.
This may be some comfort for Williams after finishing the Australian Open with an upsetting quarter-final defeat and back and ankle injuries.
However, Williams played well within herself, stroking the ball smoothly, and avoiding stressful movement as she concentrated on making efficient progress without mishap.
"I am very happy to be here," said Williams, which was undoubtedly true given the size of her damaged ankle three weeks ago, and the extent of her disappointment at not reaching world number one in Melbourne.
"I feel really good. I played a really tough girl who has been junior champion, so I think it was a really good match."