Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Williams bounces back to beat Rodionova at Acura

AP , CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIAAFP, WASHINGTON

Venus Williams bounced back from a slow start in her first tournament since winning Wimbledon to defeat Anastasia Rodionova 6-3, 6-0 in a first-round match on Monday at the Acura Classic.

Williams, the six-time Grand Slam champion, needed just 50 minutes to finish off her Russian opponent. Williams was playing her first tournament since defeating France's Marion Bartoli in straight sets to win her fourth Wimbledon title on July 7.

"I felt that I had to tell myself to give that extra effort," Williams said. "It's the ultimate challenge to play someone so competitive right after Wimbledon."

The pair were on serve at 4-3 in the first set when Williams broke through on a forehand service return winner to take a 5-3 lead. Williams quickly broke Rodionova's serve twice at the start of the second set to jump out to a 3-0 lead and closed out the set in 21 minutes.

"I was going for a lot," Williams said. "I just felt really aggressive, like I want to get the ball, move forward and go for it."

In the other night match, No. 13 Frenchwoman Tatiana Golovin beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

Earlier, ninth-seeded Elena Dementieva survived a scare as she rebounded for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over Catalina Castano.

Dementieva, the highest seed to play on the tournament's opening day, struggled against her wild-card opponent from Colombia. But the Russian blew through the final set in impressive fashion to advance.

Dementieva appeared to be on her way to a routine win against an outmatched opponent when she broke Castano's serve then held her own serve for a 3-1 lead in the second set. But Castano broke Dementieva's serve twice as she won five straight games to take the second set.

In the other matches featuring seeded players, 11th seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland defeated US player Jamea Jackson, 6-2, 6-1 and 14th-seeded Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine was pushed to three sets before beating China's Peng Shuai, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Although seeded only 10th for this tournament, Williams enters on hot streak. Not only did Williams win Wimbledon, but she was impressive for the US in the Fed Cup semifinals against Russia one week later. Williams defeated Anna Chakvetadze, ranked sixth in the world and the winner of the last two WTA tournaments, and ninth-ranked Nadia Petrova.

Williams, the winner of this event from 2000 through 2002, is coming off an injury-marred season that also slowed her at the start of the year. But the former world No. 1 has rebounded and her ranking has improved from No. 54 at the beginning of the season to her current spot at No. 17.

The Acura Classic, traditionally one of the toughest of the non-major tournaments, has one of it weakest lineups in years. Only four of the WTA's top 10 players are entered in the event.

Sweden's Thomas Johansson and Russian Igor Kunitsyn took the long way into the second round of the ATP Washington Classic with marathon three-set triumphs on Monday.

Johansson booked a second-round date today with defending champion and No. 4 seed Arnaud Clement of France by defeating Colombian Santiago Giraldo 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, after nearly three hours.

Clement, like the 16 top-ranked players, received a first-round bye at the US$600,000 event.

Kunitsyn followed Johansson onto stadium court and booked a second-round date by rallying past Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3 after two hours and 47 minutes.

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