Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya were outclassed 6-2 6-4 by Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki on Monday at the Auckland Classic. With the Danish doubles champion set to retire after the Australian Open later this month, Williams wanted to partner with her before her final hurray.
Japanese pair struggled throughout the game.
"I had to play with her before she retires," the 38-year-old Williams said after the win saw the unseeded pair advance to the quarter-finals, where they could face the top seeds Caroline Dolehide and Johanna Larsson. The Japanese duo struggled to deal with Williams' powerful serve in the opening stages before they got the measure of the American veteran to break her once.
But Williams and Wozniacki, who looked relaxed throughout the match and even found the time to joke with each other, continued to press in the second set and wrapped up the match in 71 minutes. Williams and Wozniacki begin their singles campaigns at Auckland on Tuesday.
Garcia beats Townsend, Peterson falls to Zidansek
In Monday's singles matches, French eighth seed Caroline Garcia rallied to beat American Taylor Townsend 5-7 6-3 7-5 in a match that lasted over two-and-a-half hours.
American teenager Coco Gauff, the youngest player in the draw at 15, saw off the challenge of last year's semi-finalist Viktoria Kuzmova to advance with an impressive 6-3 6-1 victory in 61 minutes. Sixth seed Rebecca Peterson fell to Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek 7-6(7) 7-6(5).
In the ongoing Shenzhen Open, defending champion Aryna Sabalenka scored an easy victory over Russian Margarita Gasparyan with 6-3 6-0. It took Belarusian only 71 minutes to demolish the Russian.
"I'm happy to start my season with a two-set win," she said in her post-match interview. "It was a tough match and really tough to start," said Sabalenka. The Belarusian will next face Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3 6-3.
(With inputs from agencies)