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Jun 27th, 2002, 06:06 PM
Venus Breezes Past Ruano Pascual

Barry Newcombe

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Four years ago Venus Williams was in her second Wimbledon and in the fourth round she came up against Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain for the first time. Williams won 6-3, 6-1 and went on to lose in the quarter-finals.

Today Williams revisited the same opponent after a four year gap and the score was exactly the same, 6-3 6-1, as the defending ladies' singles champion advanced to the last 16.

Last year, Ruano Pascual knocked out the no. 1 seed, Martina Hingis, in the first round - and she took the early advantage when she broke Venus in the first game of the match.

However, Williams was not concerned and looked increasingly in control as the match progressed, ensuring that there was to be no repeat upset for the Spaniard this year.

Although Ruano Pascual was no slouch with her serve - she hit serves at speeds of 96 mph - she was out-powered by the Williams serve, which struck five aces and peaked at 118 mph. In contrast, the Spaniard had no aces and four double-faults.

Overall, it was a comfortable display by the Champion. Although at one stage the match was poised at 3-3 in the first set, Venus cranked up a gear and took nine of the next ten games to ease into the next round, where she will play the Canadian Maureen Drake.