Dubai, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending champion Venus Williams was an easy second-round winner at the $2.5 million Dubai Tennis Championships.
The eighth-seeded former world No. 1 whipped young Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-1, 6-2 in 69 minutes at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre.
"I'm pleased to have been able to get into a position to win some matches" said Williams, who has won 10 out of 11 so far this year. "Once you win some it helps you to have that momentum.
"My strategy is a lot better than five or six years ago, and now I have a backhand slice and actually start to use it, even when I'm not playing better."
The three-time Dubai winner Williams defeated France's Alize Cornet in last year's finale.
Three seeds posted opening-round wins on Day 2, as No. 11 Czech Lucie Safarova handled Puerto Rico's Monica Puig 6-1, 6-4, No. 16 Chinese Peng Shuai doused Russian lucky loser Elena Vesnina 7-5, 6-1 and No. 17 rising Czech Karolina Pliskova leveled Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-4.
Several other women notched first-round wins, including Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, Italian Camila Giorgi, and wild card and last week's Thailand Open champion Daniela Hantuchova, who edged out German Mona Barthel 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3 to set-up a second-rounder with top seed Simona Halep here on Tuesday.
In addition to Halep, second-seeded Wimbledon champion and 2013 Dubai champ Petra Kvitova, third-seeded U.S. Open runner-up and 2011 Dubai titlist Caroline Wozniacki, fourth-seeded former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, and fifth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up and 2012 Dubai winner Agnieszka Radwanska will take to the courts for second-round affairs.
The 2015 Dubai champion will claim $456,000.