Thursday, January 22, 2004

Venus struggles but still advances

Clijsters breezes into the third round

The Associated Press

One of Andy Roddick's 20 aces in his 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over Bohdan Ulihrach Wednesday was clocked at 140 mph.
(The Associated Press)

MELBOURNE, Australia - Venus Williams struggled in her second match at the Australian Open before beating Russia's Vera Douchevina today, while second-ranked Kim Clijsters joined her in the third round following an impressive 6-0, 6-0 rout of Maria Elena Camerin.

In just her second match since being sidelined for almost six months with an abdominal injury, Williams had 23 unforced errors against the 112th-ranked Douchevina before eventually pulling out a 6-4, 6-2 win.

Williams, who has won four Grand Slam titles, was faster and looked sharper in her opening-round match against Ashley Harkleroad. Still, it took her just 56 minutes to beat Douchevina and her serve was broken only once.

"She's still Venus," Clijsters said. "She's still quick and probably she's the best mover out there."

On the men's side, French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero overcame an arm injury and advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 win over Italian Filippo Volandri.

Men's second round 

• No. 1 Andy Roddick def.

Bohdan Ulihrach 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

• No. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Filippo Volandri 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5.

• No. 4 Andre Agassi def. Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2, 6-4.

• No. 8 David Nalbandian def. Florian Mayer 6-1, 6-0, 6-3.

• No. 9 Sebastien Grosjean def. Jan-Michael Gambill 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

• No. 14 Jiri Novak def. Jan Vacek 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Women's second round

• No. 2 Kim Clijsters def. Maria Elena Camerin 6-0, 6-0.

• No. 3 Venus Williams def. Vera Douchevina, Russia 6-4, 6-2.

• Dinara Safina def. No. 27 Amanda Coetzer 7-5, 6-3.  

Agassi regrets early Aussie absences

Andre Agassi regrets not spending more time in Australia during the first half of his career.

"... I enjoy it here so much," the four-time Australian Open champion said Wednesday. "I think I didn't play at the time for reasons that were questionable. You know, I was young, wanted time off.

"I didn't have the same sort of respect for the traditions of the game as I probably wish I would have earlier. I did the same thing at Wimbledon, as well. Those are just times you can't get back."

Agassi first played the Australian Open in 1995 and won. He did not play Wimbledon for three years after a first-round debut loss in 1987.

The Associated Press

Clijsters didn't have any problems in her win over Camerin until the last game, when the Italian saved four match points before sending a backhand long.

Clijsters hit 25 winners and went to the net 14 times in a 50-minute stroll against Camerin, ranked No. 92.

"That was pretty perfect," said Clijsters, who has registered 6-0, 6-0 sweeps four times in Grand Slams. "It doesn't happen this often when you can win this well. It makes it feel good."

Clijsters said she had no trouble with the ankle problem that sidelined her for two weeks before the season's first major.

Clijsters, engaged to Australia's former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt and usually a favorite with the crowd, had at least one spectator against her.

"I could here this guy yell out, 'Come on, give her a game.' I thought, 'What do you want me to do, hit it in the net?' "

The third-seeded Ferrero hurt his left arm when he lunged for a backhand volley in the opening game of the third set. It didn't seem to slow him.

On the women's side, eighth-seeded Ai Sugiyama, 18th-seeded Francesca Schiavone, and 27th-seeded Amanda Coetzer of South Africa all lost.

Sugiyama lost to Japanese compatriot Saori Obata 6-4, 6-4.

Russian-born French teen Tatiana Golovin upset 14th-seeded Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi 6-2, 6-3, by consistently ripping forehands past her opponent on the way to 25 winners.

Golovin, who will turn 16 on Sunday, was ranked No. 354 and had only one win on the WTA Tour before the tournament. Smashnova-Pistolesi, 27, has eight WTA titles.

"I don't know if it's hit me yet, that I beat a top-20 player. I'm sure it'll sink in when I get home," said Golovin, a wild-card entry who is also in the junior tournament.

"I haven't even looked at the draw, I don't know who I'm playing (next)."

Her third-round opponent is Russian Krasnoroutskaya, who finished last season ranked No. 27.

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