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July 30, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Sisters advance after struggle

NEITHER top-seeded Serena Williams nor her second-seeded sister Venus showed off their best tennis on Tuesday, each still doing enough for straight-set victories in their first-round singles matches at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California.

Serena broke serve three times in the opening set but needed a second-set tiebreaker to beat gutsy Li Na of China 6-3, 7-6 (6) only a couple of hours after Venus' 6-2, 6-3 win over Stephanie Dubois of Canada.

Li trailed 2-6 in tiebreaker but came back to tie it at 6-6 before Serena capitalized on her seventh match point.

"I was too anxious and ready to go home and was playing a tough player who never gives up," Serena said. "Obviously I can play better. I think I hit five first serves in the whole match. I'm a little off. That's fine. I'd rather be a little off now than later."

The Williams sisters were back on court for their first competition since Serena beat Venus at Wimbledon.

After some post-Wimbledon down time, it wasn't always pretty. Serena overcame seven double faults and showed her frustration at times.

While Venus looked far from sharp as she missed shots long and sent others into the net, she pulled out enough of her top shots when it mattered. Same for Serena.

They are excited about their doubles prospects, too.

"We kind of have this secret goal I can't talk about," Venus Williams said.

Serena wouldn't elaborate much. "Our dream is no longer," she said. "I can't get a better partner, I just don't think so. She gets everything."

After she and Dubois failed to hold serve through the first three games of the opening set, Venus cruised the rest of the way in the first meeting between the two.

"It was a great match to get my rhythm, hit a lot of balls and work on my shots," said Williams, who won titles here in 2000 and '02. "It's all about the mentality. I usually adjust pretty quickly. ... I do want to try new and different things."

Still a little spacey - she admitted to some "brain freeze" - after a few weeks of sleeping in and relaxation following her Wimbledon runner-up showing to Serena, Venus said: "We love playing in L.A. I'm sorry, not L.A., I mean California. It feels like home for us."

Earlier, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia outlasted defending champion Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in 2 hours, 33 minutes.

Wozniak, who took four weeks off, became the first Canadian in 20 years to capture a WTA tour title when she won the tournament last year.

In other first-round matches, eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli of France defeated Japan's Ayumi Morita 7-6 (6), 6-3; Maria Kirilenko topped fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze, the 2007 champion in this event, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5); fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia beat US qualifier Angela Haynes 6-3, 6-1; Australia's Samantha Stosur upset sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3; German Sabine Lisicki beat American qualifier Lilia Osterloh 6-2, 6-3 and Russian qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva downed France's Julie Coin 6-1, 7-6 (5).

In Turkey, top-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia and No. 2 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland were knocked out in the first round of the Istanbul Cup on Tuesday.

Mariya Koryttseva of Ukraine defeated Zvonareva 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, and Rossana De Los Rios of Paraguay edged Schnyder 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3 at the hard-court tournament.

Third-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain topped Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus 6-4, 6-2, fifth-seeded Vera Dushevina of Russia clipped Yuliana Fedak of Ukraine 6-1, 6-4, and eighth-seeded Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic outlasted Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.


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