Defending champion Venus Williams wins opening match
January 6, 2005
HONG KONG (AP) -- Venus Williams
struggled to beat Russia's Vera Zvonareva
6-2, 4-6, 7-5 Thursday in the Champions Challenge exhibition tournament.
``It was an up and down match as far as the amount of errors,'' Williams said. ``When I was down I was making a lot more errors. I was really trying to take control ... it takes a bit of time sometimes to get your rhythm and groove.''
Williams led 3-0 in the third set before suffering a lapse of concentration against Zvonareva, who reeled off five straight games to lead 5-3. Zvonareva only needed to hold serve to win the match, but Williams regained control and won the match after the Russian doubled faulted. Williams, whose season last year was cut short by injuries, played with a wrap around her left thigh but said it was just a protective measure. Williams plays U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova
in Friday's match that will determine who advances to Saturday's final. Elena Dementieva
reached the final when Czech star Nicole Vaidisova
withdrew Thursday due to illness.