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Mr. Man
Apr 27th, 2003, 06:39 PM
Tennis-Ruthless Serena clinches victory for U.S


LOWELL, Massachusetts, April 27 (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams overwhelmed the Czech Republic's Klara Koukalova 6-2 6-2 to give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead in its first round of their Fed Cup tie on Sunday.

The United States -- champions a record 17 times -- will face Italy at home in July.

The 21-year-old Koukalova was a late replacement for top Czech player Daja Bedanova, who was removed from the line-up just an hour before the match on Sunday.

Koukalova, who had upset Monica Seles in the second round of the 2002 Australian Open, tried to hang in with the powerful Williams from the baseline but was completely overwhelmed.

She failed to negotiate Williams's booming serves and had few answers for the American's lethal returns.

The Czech was broken in the first game of the contest when she double faulted, but continued to play aggressively and held a break point on the Williams serve at 1-2.

However, the five-times grand slam champion ripped an ace down the middle, and followed it up with another ace and a service winner to hold for 3-1.

Williams broke Koukalova to 4-1 with a gorgeous forehand drop shot and won the first set with a service winner.

The 21-year-old American kept rolling in the second set, breaking the Czech to 2-1 by forcing her into a backhand error.

Williams broke her again to 4-1 when Koukalova double faulted before wrapping up the contest when the Czech buried a backhand into the net.

On Saturday, Venus Williams crushed Bedanova 6-1 6-0 in the opening match and Serena overcame Iveta Benesova Williams 7-5 6-1.


:bounce: Go Team Usa. Good Luck against Italy in July! :bounce: