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QueenO
Jun 28th, 2002, 01:56 PM
Venus breezes into 3rd round

By Charles Bricker
Staff Writer
Posted June 28 2002



WIMBLEDON, England Three days before the start of Wimbledon on a warm Friday morning on one of the more remote practice courts, Venus Williams spent 25 minutes hitting serve after serve after serve under the watchful eye of her mother.

She came here determined not to be quashed by another serving disaster like the one that helped her sister, Serena, beat her in the final of the French Open.

Williams has played only two matches, against less than brilliant opposition. But she must be pleased with the early results.

In a 6-3, 6-1 trouncing of Virginia Ruano Pascual on Thursday, she slapped five aces, committed one double-fault, got 63 percent of her first serves in, won 22 of 27 first-serve points and faced only two breaks, both in a jittery opening game.

After that, she was supremely in command.

"I just want it to flow, that's all," Venus said of her revitalized serve.

So far, it's flowing. Not like Niagara Falls, but worlds better than it was when she thumped nine double-faults in a 7-5, 6-3 loss to Serena in Paris, including three double-clunkers on break points.

Williams, the No. 1 seed, could not have asked for a breezier first week in which to work on the fluidity of her serve. She whipped British wild card Jane O'Donoghue, ranked No. 344, in the first round, and No. 54 Ruano Pascual in the second. On Saturday, she draws No. 110 Maureen Drake of Canada.

Venus was accompanied into the third round by five other seeded players -- No. 4 Monica Seles, No. 6 Justine Henin, No. 10 Silvia Farina Elia, No. 12 Elena Dementieva and No. 16 Lisa Raymond, a former University of Florida star.

Fifth-seeded Kim Clijsters, however, will spend the rest of her Wimbledon watching boyfriend Lleyton Hewitt. Struggling with a rotator cuff injury, Clijsters was knocked out 7-6 (5), 6-2 by Elena Likhovtseva.

On the men's side, life settled down considerably after a Wednesday that claimed Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Marat Safin.

Hewitt, the top seed, whisked through French qualifier Gregory Carraz 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to join No. 4 Tim Henman and No. 16 Nicolas Escude in the third round.

There were two upsets, though not of the magnitude that shook Wimbledon on Day 3. Jeff Morrison, another former UF player, shipped out No. 9 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero, the French Open runner-up, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Not long afterward, comeback king Feliciano Lopez of Spain staggered No. 10 Guillermo Canas, saving six match points in a 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5, 10-8 victory. Lopez had saved a single match point in his first-round match and at Key Biscayne this year rallied from 0-6, 1-4 and two breaks down to beat Xavier Malisse.

Williams is not going to have a major test until the semifinals, when she could face Seles or Henin. That would give her another three matches to get any kinks out.

In two matches, she has hit seven aces, which reflects a more careful approach to her serve. But she also has only three double faults, and that number alone is enough to buoy her.

"I'm just trying to take each serve seriously and not really play around at all, especially in practice," Williams said.

Williams had 11 unforced errors against Ruano Pascual, which is about average for a straight-set, grass-court match. But her serving was fairly clean after the opening break. Three of her next four service games were won at love.

"I don't think I returned as well as I'd like," she said, but she noted the windy conditions and Ruano Pascual's occasionally effective slice backhand. "I couldn't really get a rhythm today," Williams explained. It seemed more a whimsical observation than a complaint.

Jovon
Jun 29th, 2002, 02:11 AM
Keep going Queen Vee!!!!!!!:bounce: