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Serena wins despite bad let call

SERENA Williams overcame a glaring chair umpiring mistake and a partisan crowd to win her first match of the season, a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-5 decision yesterday over Australian Samantha Stosur at the Sydney International.

Last year's US Open champion was serving for the match at 6-5 and 30-30 in the second set when the chair umpire failed to notice an obvious let call when Williams' serve hit the net and dropped into the serving area on Stosur's side of the net. Williams didn't even bother to chase down Stosur's return, believing it to be a certain let.

Stosur was awarded the point and went on to break Williams and won the ensuing tiebreaker. Williams fought off four match points in the 10th game of the third set before breaking Stosur two games later to win the match.

Until Williams' late rally, the American seemed visibly upset by the mistake. She spoke to the umpire, Asitha Attigala of Sri Lanka, at the end of the game and second set, but didn't argue. At the end of the match, she shook his hand.


Williams acknowledged the incident had disrupted her game.

"I felt like I was going to win that second set," she said after the match. "And then I hit a massive net cord and the guy didn't call it. Even Sam knew it was a net cord. It was frustrating at that point. These types of things seem to happen to me a lot."

The heavily pro-Stosur crowd at the Olympic Park Tennis Center chanted "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi," throughout the match and loudly cheered and whistled every Stosur point.

Williams received only smatters of appreciative applause even on her big points.

Williams said she was disappointed in her game, noting that she had missed a lot of easy shots and that the strong wind had sometimes been challenging.

"It was definitely tough conditions with the wind," Williams said. "With that being said, I just made so many errors, and that was a little frustrating because I feel like I've been working hard and to come out and perform at the level I did, I wasn't extremely happy."

In another match, former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, the fifth seed here, also needed three sets to beat China's Peng Shuai, advancing to the second round with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 win.

Meanwhile, in Hobart, Australia, second-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland was knocked out of the Hobart International in the first round yesterday, beaten by Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-4.

The 30-year-old Schnyder received a code violation for unsportsmanlike behavior late in the second set for audible obscenities after a prolonged argument with the chair umpire over a line call.

"I didn't expect to play so well today," Pironkova said. "I managed to stay in the court and hit deep shots, and she (Schnyder) didn't play her best tennis.

In other matches, seventh-seeded Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine beat Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic defeated wild card Sally Peers of Australia 6-0, 6-0 and the Czech Republic's Iveta Benesova downed eighth-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 7-5, 7-5.


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