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Venus survives in Charleston

SECOND-SEEDED Venus Williams struggled past Sania Mirza of India 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in the second round of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday.

It took the fifth-ranked Williams almost 2? hours to defeat the 100th-ranked Mirza on the green clay of stadium court at the tennis center on Daniel Island. Williams, who won the Family Circle five years ago, improved to 3-0 against Mirza.

"When she's playing against me, she's got to go for it and I think there's also a sense of nothing to lose," Williams said.

"When you look at the numbers and the rankings and statistics, you know, I'm supposed to win this match, so I think that gives her an opportunity to swing freely."

It appeared Williams had the match well in hand, winning the first set 6-1, although it took 46 minutes. She led 3-1 in the second before Mirza rattled off five straight games, including breaking Williams at love for 5-3 and holding serve in the final game, which went to deuce eight times. Mirza then broke Williams' first two service games in the last set, but couldn't hold her own serve and lost the last five games.

"These kind of matches are great to pull out," Williams said. "I've been in these situations before, so I rely on that."

While Williams struggled, it was a big day for fellow American Melanie Oudin, who advanced to the third round with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over No. 29 Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, seeded ninth.

"I was really happy with the way I played and how I kept it up, especially through playing a set and not letting her come back at all," said Oudin, ranked No. 176.

The 17-year-old called it one of the biggest victories of her career.

"This is definitely one of the top two biggest highlights I have had," she said, the other coming when she beat Sybille Bammer, who was ranked No. 27 at the time.

Oudin will face 13th-ranked Marion Bartoli of France next.

Russia's Elena Vesnina outlasted eighth-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5. Schnyder hasn't won consecutive matches on tour since she claimed the Bali title last September.

Fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki won her seventh successive match, including last week's Ponte Vedra Beach title, by defeating Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-3, 6-3, to set up a third-round match with 10th-seeded Peng Shuai of China.

The Chinese player edged Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, but 11th-seed Alona Bondarenko was ousted by Viktoriya Kutuzova 6-4, 7-5 for a third straight time in the all-Ukraine clash.


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