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Old Jan 19th, 2010, 12:08 AM   #1
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Australian Open 2010: Andrew's reports (preview + 1r)

===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. UK TV-alert
3. First-round draw
4. Lucie Šafářová preview
5. Order of play for Tuesday

Master thread for my Australian Open 2010 reports:
http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=399696

---------
1. Photos
---------

Where to look at many players:
* http://www.tennis.com/galleries/index.aspx
* http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery
* http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/tennis/photos.html
* http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/photos/

Where to search for specific players:
* http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/.../profiles.html
* http://news.yahoo.com/
* http://www.fotosports.com/
* Getty Images

--------------
2. UK TV-alert
--------------

The evening-sessions on Rod Laver Arena will be televised on BBC Red Button from 08:00 GMT each day of the tournament (digital viewers press Red or tune into Freeview 301).

This coverage will be followed by highlights on a continuous loop (from 17:00 GMT, or 19:00 GMT on Freeview, with daily variations).

Additionally, all Andy Murray's matches will be televised live on either BBC 1 or BBC 2 (the first such programme was on BBC 2 on Monday). Bits of other matches might be shown in these programmes if Murray's match starts late or finishes early.

There will also be tennis on BBC 1 at 13:00 GMT on Saturday 23rd January.

Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6102132.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/default.stm

Daily details of the BBC Red Button schedule:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tv_a...io/5345480.stm

-------------------
3. First-round draw
-------------------
Key
---

[Q] qualifier
[WC] wild card
[LL] lucky loser
[EF] member of my Eternal Fanship
[DF] member of my demi-fanship
[s] Selesian
(* ?x v ?y) I prefer ?x to win
(my loyalty is to ?x) I like both players, but prefer ?x
(my Reason says ?x, but my Passion says ?y) I prefer ?x in tennis-terms, but want ?y to win because she's more attractive
(my Passion says ?x, but my Reason says ?y) I find ?x more attractive, but want ?y to win because I prefer her game


3.1 Top quarter: Vera Zvonarëva
-------------------------------

* Urszula Radwańska v SERENA WILLIAMS [1] (dawaj Ula!)
* Petra Kvitová v Jill Craybas
* Renata Voráčová [Q] v Andrea Petković
* Ayumi Morita [s] v CARLA SUÁREZ NAVARRO [32] (ganbatte Ayumi!)

* SABINE LISICKI [21,DF] v Petra Martić (komm jetzt Sabine!)
* Varvara Lepchenko v Alberta Brianti (go Varvara!)
* Kristina Barrois v Akgul Amanmuradova
* SAMANTHA STOSUR [13] v Han,Xinyun [Q] (go Sam!)

* VERA ZVONARËVA [9,EF] v Kristína Kučová [s] (my loyalty is to VERA)
* Iveta Benešová v Chang,Kai-Chen (pojďme Iveta!)
* Gisela Dulko [DF] v Zuzana Kučová [Q] (¡vamos Gisela!)
* ANA IVANOVIĆ [20,DF] v Shenay Perry [Q] (ajde Ana!)

* ELENA VESNINA [28] v Tathiana Garbin (davai Elena!)
* Yaroslava Shvedova v Kimiko Date Krumm (davai Yaroslava!)
* Stefanie Vögele v Melinda Czink (hopp Stefanie!)
* VICTORIA AZARENKA [7,DF] v Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro [WC] (davai Vika!)


3.2 Second quarter: Daniela Hantuchová & Lucie Šafářová
-------------------------------------------------------

* CAROLINE WOZNIACKI [4] v Aleksandra Wozniak (kom så Caro!)
* Tamira Paszek v Julia Görges (my Passion says Julia, but my Reason says Tamira)
* Tsvetana Pironkova [DF] v Galina Voskoboeva (aide Tsvetana!)
* Lucie Hradecká [s] v SHAHAR PE'ER [29] (my Passion says Shahar, but my Reason says Lucie)

* DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [22,EF] v Viktoriya Kutuzova (my loyalty is to DANIELA)
* Jarmila Groth [WC] v Sofia Arvidsson [Q]
* Ágnes Szávay v Stéphanie Dubois (Ágnes's sexier body just edges Stéphanie's prettier face for me )
* Marina Eraković v LI,NA [16] (go Marina!)

* Tatjana Malek v AGNIESZKA RADWAŃSKA [10] (komm jetzt Tatjana!)
* Melanie Oudin v Alla Kudryavtseva
* Alicia Molik [WC] v Julie Coin (go Alicia!)
* Alizé Cornet v FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE [17] (allez Alizé!)

* Karolina Šprem [DF] v ANABEL MEDINA GARRIGUES [25] (my loyalty is to Karolina)
* Casey Dell'Acqua [WC] v Anastasiya Yakimova
* Arantxa Parra Santonja [s] v Sybille Bammer (¡vamos Arantxa!)
* Lucie Šafářová [EF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [6] (POJĎME LUCIE!!)


3.3 Third quarter
-----------------

* ELENA DEMENTIEVA [5] won
* Justine Henin [WC] won
* Sorana Cîrstea v Olivia Rogowska [WC] (hai Sorana!)
* ALISA KLEYBANOVA [27] won

* Ekaterina Makarova v Virginie Razzano (davai Ekaterina!)
* Klára Zakopalová v Sara Errani (pojďme Klára!)
* Yanina Wickmayer [Q] won
* FLAVIA PENNETTA [12,DF] won

* KIM CLIJSTERS [15] won
* Sesil Karatantcheva [WC] v Tamarine Tanasugarn, 1-6 6-5*
* Chan,Yung-Jan v Kaia Kanepi
* Edina Gallovits v NADIA PETROVA [19]

* Sania Mirza [DF] v ARAVANE REZAÏ [26] (my loyalty is to Sania)
* Olga Govortsova v Angelique Kerber [Q] (davai Olga!)
* Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won
* SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA [3] won


3.4 Bottom quarter
------------------

* Monica Niculescu [s] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [8] (hai Monica!)
* Katie O'Brien v Patricia Mayr (go Katie!)
* Yuliana Fedak [Q] v Polona Hercog (my loyalty is to Yuliana)
* ALYONA BONDARENKO [31] v Kathrin Wörle [Q] (davai Alyona!)

* MARÍA JOSÉ MARTÍNEZ SÁNCHEZ [24] won
* Zheng,Jie won
* Sandra Záhlavová v Coco Vandeweghe [WC]
* MARION BARTOLI [11,DF,S] v Rossana de los Ríos (allez Marion!)

* Maria Kirilenko [DF] won
* Yvonne Meusburger [Q] won
* Roberta Vinci v Anna-Lena Grönefeld (forza Roberta!)
* DOMINIKA CIBULKOVÁ [23] v Vania King, 3-6 2-1* (15/30*)

* KATERYNA BONDARENKO [30] won
* Elena Baltacha won
* Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová v Regina Kulikova [Q], 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (10/12) *4-3
* DINARA SAFINA [2] won

-------------------------
4. Lucie Šafářová preview
-------------------------

Lucie Šafářová is one of the most supremely talented tennis-players I've ever seen. She's a fearless, ambitious shotmaker who loves to go for broke, and hits many spectacular winners. Her athleticism is amazing: she runs like the wind. Every time I see her play, she is a joy to watch.

In the quarter-finals of the Australian Open 2007, Lucie's average groundstroke-speed was measured at 71mph: 1mph faster than her opponent Nicole Vaidišová, and only 2mph slower than men's #2 Rafael Nadal. And she achieves such speeds with flairsome power: she may be only 5'9" with a light frame, but her groundstrokes are flat and she hits them with superb timing.

Lucie has a swinging lefty serve, and frequently uses it to set up a groundstroke-winner on the third stroke of the rally. She also has Seles-like returns of serve: she takes them early, often standing up to 1½ metres inside the baseline to receive. She's very aggressive off the second serve.

Lucie has wonderful left-handed angles, and she can mix up the pace with very short, softly-spun crosscourt forehands and backhands to the sidelines, which are a speciality of hers.

After her slump of 2008, Lucie enjoyed improved form in 2009 - although still not up to the standards of 2007 - compiling a 36:25 singles-record, and rising back up the rankings from #65 to #40 (her career-high is #22 from August 2007).

Lucie reached the quarter-finals of Brisbane 2009, and the third round of the Australian Open, where she lost 3-6 6-2 6-1 to #17 Marion Bartoli after leading 6-3 *2-0.

Lucie reached the quarter-finals of Memphis, Monterrey and Barcelona, and the third round of Madrid. In the second round of the French Open, she had a match-point against Venus Williams before losing 6-7 6-2 7-5.

Some mediocre results followed, then Lucie's form improved as she scored 6-3 7-6 wins over #24 Kaia Kanepi in the first round of Los Angeles, and #30 Iveta Benešová in the first round of Cincinnati.

She then won five matches to reach the quarter-finals of Toronto as a qualifier, with main-draw wins over #26 Kaia Kanepi, #11 Ana Ivanović, and #25 Zheng,Jie. But she lost in the first round of the US Open to #20 Patty Schnyder after leading *5/2 in the third-set tiebreak.

Lucie reached the final of Québec City with four wins over players ranked no higher than #91, but disappointingly missed out on a title for 2009 as she lost 4-6 6-3 7-5 to Melinda Czink despite leading 6-4 1-1* (40/30*), and 5-4* (15/0*) in the third set.

Lucie beat #11 Ana Ivanović again en route to the quarter-finals of Tokyo, and also reached the quarter-finals of Linz. But her season ended with the ignominy of a loss to #290 Romina Oprandi in the first round of ITF Ortisei.

Lucie started 2010 with a quarter-final at Brisbane: reached by beating #65 Anna-Lena Grönefeld 6-7 (5/7) 6-4 6-1, and thrashing #34 Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3 6-1. She then lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in a see-saw match: 6-1 0-6 6-4. Lucie lost just nine points in the second set, hitting clean winners all over the court!

In the first round of Hobart, Lucie retired with a left-pectoral-muscle strain at 2-6 7-6 2-3* against #31 Kateryna Bondarenko. The week before the Australian Open, I can only hope that this was a precautionary retirement.


4.1 First-round preview
-----------------------

* Lucie Šafářová [EF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [6]

A very tough draw for Lucie against the seven-times Major champion, who leads her 3:0 head-to-head:
- 2006 Rome: Williams won 6-1 6-4
- 2009 Rome: Williams won 6-2 4-6 6-2
- 2009 French Open: Williams won 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 7-5

And all these meetings came on clay, which is Lucie's best surface and Venus's worst.

Lucie did have a match-point against Venus in the second round of the French Open 2009. With Venus serving to stay in the match at *4-5 in the third, Lucie hit two searing crosscourt backhand winners for 0/30, but was desperately unlucky to lose the next two points. She had the match-point at 30/40, but Williams saved it with a one-two punch.

Venus's career seems in decline, seeing as she hasn't won a Major since Wimbledon 2008, a Major outside of Wimbledon since the US Open 2001, and will be 30 by the time Wimbledon comes round again. But she still compiled an impressive 38:16 singles-record in 2009, and maintained her year-end #6 ranking from 2008 to 2009.

Venus can be surprisingly vulnerable at the Australian Open - like last year, when she lost in the second round to #46 Carla Suárez Navarro 2-6 6-3 7-5 after leading 5-2* in the third set. So what can a #41-ranked Lucie do to her this year?

Venus's title-victory at Dubai 2009 goes some way to the high ranking that she still has. She beat #4 Elena Dementieva and #1 Serena Williams in that tournament, and followed it up with an International title at Acapulco, thrashing #15 Flavia Pennetta 6-1 6-2 in the final.

Venus reached the semi-finals of Miami and Rome, beating #11/12-ranked Agnieszka Radwańska in both tournaments - 6-1 6-2 at Rome. After surviving the aforementioned French Open skirmish with Lucie, she folded 6-0 6-4 to #31 Ágnes Szávay in the third round the next day.

Venus once again reached the final of her beloved Wimbledon, making a mockery of Dinara Safina's #1 ranking by thrashing the Majorless one 6-1 6-0 in the semis. But she lost the final 7-6 6-2 to #2 Serena Williams.

Venus thrashed #4 Elena Dementieva 6-0 6-1 in the semi-finals of Stanford, but lost the final to #14 Marion Bartoli. She lost 6-0 0-6 6-4 to unranked Kim Clijsters in the fourth round of the US Open. She lost to #40/39 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second rounds of both Tokyo and Beijing.

Venus went 1:2 in the round-robin phase of the season-ending championships at Doha (the win coming against #3 Svetlana Kuznetsova), but due to the vagaries of the round-robin system, she still qualified for the semi-finals - and beat #8 Jelena Janković before losing the final 6-2 7-6 to #2 Serena Williams.

Venus has prepared for the Australian Open 2010 with a series of exhibitions. She lost 6-3 6-4 to #14 Maria Sharapova at Hua Hin, Thailand. She beat #4 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 (just one set, due to rain) in a women's singles rubber of the Hong Kong Tennis Classic semi-finals, and beat #35 Zheng,Jie 6-3 6-2 in a women's singles rubber of the Silver-Group final in Hong Kong.

Lucie's chances are not good, but if she can rediscover the magic that beat Kim Clijsters 6-0 in that second set at Brisbane, then she just might get another match-point against Venus - and this time convert it!

----------------------------
5. Order of play for Tuesday
----------------------------

Hisense Arena (start 11:00 AEDT = 00:00 GMT)
MS 1r: FERNANDO VERDASCO [9] v Carsten Ball [WC]
WS 1r: Monica Niculescu [s] v JELENA JANKOVIĆ [8]
MS 1r: JO-WILFRIED TSONGA [10] v Sergiy Stakhovsky
WS 1r: Lucie Šafářová [EF] v VENUS WILLIAMS [6]
MS 1r: NOVAK ÐOKOVIĆ [3] v Daniel Gimeno-Traver

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
__________________
My Eternal Fanship: 1. Monica Seles; 2. Мария Шарапова (‘Maria Sharapova’); 3. Daniela Hantuchová; 4. Jelena Dokić; 5. Iva Majoli; 6. Karina Habšudová; 7. Вера Звонарёва (‘Vera Zvonarëva’); 8. Nicole Vaidišová; 9. Анна Чакветадзе (‘Anna Chakvetadze’); 10. Lucie Šafářová; 11. Ирода Туляганова (‘Iroda Tulyaganova’); 12. Magdaléna Rybáriková; 13. Sabine Lisicki

Last edited by andrewbroad : Feb 1st, 2010 at 05:06 PM. Reason: edit Title
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Old Feb 1st, 2010, 05:04 PM   #2
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Andrew's first-round report

===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
===============
Contents
--------

1. Photos
2. First-round scoreboard-report: Šafářová v V.Williams
3. Women's Doubles: First round

---------
1. Photos
---------

Šafářová, Lucie [EF]:
- http://www.lucie-safarova.com/galler....php?album=106
- http://news.search.yahoo.com/news/se...arova&ei=UTF-8

Various players including Lucie:
- http://www.tennis.com/spotlight/2010...ion/index.aspx
- http://www.tennisforum.com/showthread.php?t=400609

-------------------------------------------------------
2. First-round scoreboard-report: Šafářová v V.Williams (Tuesday 19th January 2010)
-------------------------------------------------------

- Lucie Šafářová [EF] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS [6], 2-6 2-6

A lacklustre performance from Lucie: the statistics indicate that she served very poorly, and had a W:UE ratio of 11:34. My interpretation of the statistics is that the left-pectoral-muscle strain with which Lucie retired from Hobart last week was still bothering her.

Venus assessed the match as follows: "I was playing a really talented player. Everyone knows how well Lucie can hit the ball. She definitely gets a lot of pace, and she's left-handed. We've had some tough matches in the past. I just wanted to stay focused and execute my game. Great way to start."

Lucie made a *0-3 start to the match (having wasted a break-point at 0-2*), so it was a relief when she finally lit the scoreboard by holding for 1-3*. She also held for 2-4*, but lost the first set on a double break.

Lucie broke at the start of the second set, but was broken back immediately. She saved break-points at *1-2 (15/40) to hold for 2-2*, but won just four points in the last four games of the match.


First set
---------
ŠAFÁŘOVÁ ___* *__ 2
WILLIAMS *@* * *@ 6

The match was fourth on Hisense Arena, and started at 18:51 AEDT.

Venus serving 0-0: 40/0. 40/30. Held.
Lucie serving 0-1: 0/40 (BP #1). 30/40 (BP #3). Broken.

Venus serving 2-0: 15/0. 15/15. 15/30. 30/40 (BP). Deuce. Ad Venus. Held.

Lucie serving 0-3: 40/0. 40/15. Held.
Venus serving 3-1: 40/0. Held.
Lucie serving 1-4: 30/0. 30/30. 40/30. Held.

Venus serving 4-2: 0/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. Deuce #1. Ad Venus. Deuce #2. Ad Venus. Held.

Lucie serving 2-5: 0/15. 15/15. 15/40 (SP #1). Venus won the first set 6-2 at 19:26 AEDT (35m).


Second set
----------
ŠAFÁŘOVÁ @__*____ 2
WILLIAMS _@* *@*@ 6

Venus serving 0-0: 0/30. 15/30. 15/40 (BP #1). 30/40 (BP #2). Deuce #1. Ad Venus. Deuce #2. Ad Lucie (BP #3). Broken.

Lucie serving 1-0: 0/40 (BP #1). 15/40 (BP #2). Broken.
Venus serving 1-1: 40/0. 40/15. Held.
Lucie serving 1-2: 15/0. 15/40 (BP×2). Deuce. Ad Lucie. Held.
Venus serving 2-2: 40/0. Held.
Lucie serving 2-3: 0/15. 15/15. 15/40 (BP). Broken.
Venus serving 4-2: 0/15. 30/15. 30/30. 40/30. Held.
Lucie serving 2-5: 0/40 (MP #1). 15/40 (MP #2). Venus won 6-2 6-2 at 20:03 AEDT (second set 37m, match 1h12m).


Statistics
----------

Lucie served very poorly, getting only 48% of first serves in, winning 59% of the points when she did so, and 25% on second serve. Her swinging lefty serve is usually one of her great strengths, so if that wasn't working, it was a pretty severe handicap.

From the first set to the second, Lucie upped her first-serves-in percentage from 39% to 57%, but her winning-percentages deteriorated from (78%, 29%) to (46%, 20%). This suggests that she took the pace off her first serve as the match progressed - possibly because her left-pectoral-muscle strain worsened.

Venus got only 47% of first serves in, but her second serve was almost as effective as Lucie's first serve: Venus won 76% on first serve and 57% on second serve.

Venus's first serve was much faster than Lucie's: fastest 117-103 mph, average first serve 106-91 mph, average second serve 84-83 mph. Venus is one of the very fastest servers in women's tennis, but Lucie's slow first serves suggest that the left-pectoral-muscle strain with which she retired from Hobart was still bothering her.

Lucie served one ace and 6 double faults (3 in each set), which is quite high for just 8 service-games. Venus served 2 aces and 3 double faults.

Lucie broke once from 5 BPs, while Venus converted 5 of 11 BPs.

Lucie had a lacklustre W:UE ratio of 11:34 to Venus's 18:21.

Lucie won 3 of 5 points at the net (60%), Venus an impressive 11 of 12 (92%). Lucie only went to the net once in the second set - and lost that point.

In points, Venus won 62-37 (first set 31-20, second set 31-17).


Articles
--------

{before the match}

Australian Open Tuesday Preview (www.sonyericssonwtatour.com)
>>>
Hisense Arena
Lucie Šafářová (CZE #41) vs. VENUS WILLIAMS [6] (USA #6)
Williams leads 3:0

Šafářová in full flight is a sight to see: she's tall, rangy, and possessed of powerful groundstrokes - a kind of left-handed Venus, in fact.

Not surprisingly, this means the almost-23-year-old can match it with the game's biggest hitters, no problem. But ever since she threatened to crack the top 20 a couple of years ago, her body has baulked, injury after injury stalling progress. The worry this time is that, after pushing Kim Clijsters to three sets in the quarters at Brisbane, Šafářová retired early in her first match at Hobart due to a pectoral-muscle strain.

Fitness, therefore, will be key today, but two of this pair's three matches have gone to three sets - most recently at Roland Garros last year.

Venus arrives with a couple of exhibitions under her belt, but as last year's early loss here to Carla Suárez Navarro showed, she can be vulnerable at the start of the season.
<<<

{after the match}

Venus passes early Czech test [skytext 446]
>>>
Venus Williams cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with an impressive 6-2 6-2 victory over Lucie Šafářová.

The Czech - a real talent at her best - was expected to give the sixth seed a sterner test, but she converted just one of her five break-points, and Williams barely had to break sweat.

Williams has never won the Australian Open, and if she is to win it this year, she will probably have to beat sister Serena in the semi-finals.

Before that, she will have to improve her first serve - she landed well under 50% of them, and a top-20 player will take full advantage.

Her groundstrokes, however, look in fine fettle, and she broke Šafářová twice in the first set, and three times in the second set too.

Šafářová's powderpuff second serve was dispatched with ease, and Venus set up a potentially tricky meeting with Austria's Sybille Bammer.
<<<

Venus thrashes Šafářová to keep up Williams sister-act (Reuters)
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Nick Mulvenney)
>>>
Venus Williams followed younger sister Serena into the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday with a 6-2 6-2 demolition of Lucie Šafářová.

The sixth-ranked Venus did not allow the 22-year-old Šafářová to settle in the first set, racing out to a 4-1* lead before she broke for the second time to seal it.

Šafářová broke in the first game of the second set, but it was all the 29-year-old American would give her Czech opponent, and she immediately broke back before romping to victory in just 71 minutes.
<<<

Venus joins Serena in Australian Open second round (Andrew Dent, AFP)
>>>
Venus Williams warmed-up for another tilt at the elusive Australian Open title on Tuesday with a 6-2 6-2 first-round thrashing of Czech Lucie Šafářová.

Šafářová was expected to provide a tough opening challenge, but the tall American was in imperious form as she raced to an easy win in just 72 minutes.

"I was playing a really talented player - everyone knows how well Lucie can hit the ball," Williams said.

"She definitely gets a lot of pace, and she's left-handed. We've had some tough matches in the past.

"I just wanted to stay focused and execute my game - a great way to start."

Williams - whose best finish at the Australian Open was runner-up to Serena Williams in 2003 - looked in great shape physically as she broke Šafářová twice in the first set and three times in the second.

The seven-time Major champion returned brilliantly throughout, putting enormous pressure on Šafářová's second serve, which crumbled badly as a result.

And although Williams's first serve misfired badly, with only 47% of first serves in, Šafářová only had five break-point chances in the match, converting just one of those.

The sixth seed has kept a low profile heading into the 2010 tournament, with most of the attention going to Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.

But if that worries Venus, she wasn't showing it.

"I don't think about the headlines," she said.

"My whole life has been a headline, and I've never in my career aimed to get headlines.

"I aim to win matches. That's pretty much my aim here: to win matches."

Against Šafářová, she displayed the form that should see her make up for the disappointment of 2009, when she lost in the second round to unseeded Spaniard Carla Suárez Navarro.

She said she was delighted to have been able to play as well as she did against Šafářová in her first competitive match of the year.

"I've obviously been working hard in practice, and executing in practice isn't as easy as doing it in a match," she said.

"But I think definitely - I mean, my years of experience playing on Tour definitely helps a lot with knowing how to come back, and try to hopefully play well every time."
<<<

Wrinkle-free Venus irons out Czech Šafářová (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Pritha Sarkar)
>>>
Venus Williams began her campaign for an eighth Major title on Tuesday confident that age was not catching up with her.

"No," the tall American - who is fast approaching 30 - told reporters when asked if she was starting to feel her age against younger opponents after she beat the 22-year-old Lucie Šafářová 6-2 6-2 in the Australian Open first round.

"No wrinkles yet, either, so thankfully that's working out. To be honest, when you're on the court, age doesn't matter. So I never think really about my opponent's age at all.

"So far, though, I'm fast and strong, and maintaining that is great."

Williams has not won a Major title since she beat her younger sister Serena in the 2008 Wimbledon final, and could be considered the forgotten player of the women's draw, though she was clinical in beating the Czech on Tuesday.

"I was playing a really talented player. Everyone knows how well Lucie can hit the ball," Venus said.

"She definitely gets a lot of pace, and she's left handed. We've had some tough matches in the past.

"I just wanted to stay focused and execute my game, [and it was a] great way to start."

The victory ensured that Venus joined Australian Open champion Serena in the second round, after the world number-one had earlier beaten Poland's Urszula Radwańska 6-2 6-1 in a similar fashion.

Venus, however, said there was no sibling-rivalry going on.

"We always motivate each other, but I don't think there have been times where I wanted to get a score similar to her against certain players," Venus said.

"Actually, [it] hasn't happened in a while."
<<<

Williams sisters send chills through rivals (Andrew Dent, AFP)
>>>
The Williams sisters sent chills down the spines of their Australian Open rivals on Tuesday, with both Serena and Venus demolishing first-round opponents.

Top seed Serena thrashed Poland's Urszula Radwańska 6-2 6-1 in 73 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, while on the nearby Hisense Arena, sixth-seeded Venus took one minute less to dispatch highly-rated Czech Lucie Šafářová 6-2 6-2.

With Caroline Wozniacki - the fourth seed - and seventh-ranked Victoria Azarenka having their first-round matches postponed until Wednesday, Serena and Venus seized the limelight back from Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.

<snip Serena Williams>

Her sister was equally impressive in her win over Šafářová.

"I was playing a really talented player - everyone knows how well Lucie can hit the ball," Venus said.

"I just wanted to stay focused and execute my game: a great way to start."

Venus, whose best finish at the Australian Open was runner-up to Serena in 2003, looked in great shape physically as she broke Šafářová twice in the first set and three times in the second.

The seven-time Major champion returned brilliantly throughout, putting enormous pressure on Šafářová's second serve, which crumbled badly as a result.
<<<

Venus Williams wins first match at Australian Open (AP)
By Jocelyn Gecker: Associated Press Writer
>>>
Venus Williams turns the big 30 this year, but she would like to note that she is still fast, still strong, and has no wrinkles.

As the new decade dawns, Williams took a moment to reflect on her past 10 years in tennis and list some of her goals for the future.

"I feel like I have so much left in my strings to accomplish," Williams said, after easily beating Lucie Šafářová of the Czech Republic 6-2 6-2 on Tuesday in the first round of the Australian Open. "I love playing. I want to win each tournament I play. I want to win the Majors, play doubles, and be in the Olympics."

Read: she has no plan to retire anytime soon.

Williams and her younger sister Serena have proven their enduring staying power. It was in 1999 that Serena won the first Major singles-title for the family at the US Open. Venus followed the next year with two trophies: at Wimbledon and the US Open. The siblings now have a total of 18: seven for Venus and 11 for Serena.

And that's just singles. Venus has 10 Major doubles-titles: all won with Serena playing at her side. The sisters are the defending doubles-champions at Melbourne.

Serena's successes have upstaged her sister's in recent years. But Venus has consistently remained a top-ranked player - injuries permitting - and is seeded sixth in Melbourne behind top-seeded Serena.

Venus is aiming to improve her record at the Australian Open, where she was a finalist in 2003, but has not advanced since beyond the fourth round. She was upset last year in the second round by Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain.

Venus's strong serves and her full-swinging, relentlessly attacking style were on display on Tuesday, as she dominated her match in an eye-catching canary-yellow dress with slits up the front. She sent her 22-year-old opponent chasing balls right and left, backward and forward.

"To be honest, when you're on the court, age doesn't matter," she said. "So far, I'm fast and strong - and maintaining that is great."

She added with a laugh: "And no wrinkles yet, either, so thankfully that's working out."

Venus turns 30 in June, and is one year older than Serena, who also advanced to the second round on Tuesday.

<snip>
<<<

Serena Still Perfect in Round 1 (www.sonyericssonwtatour.com)
>>>
The Williams sisters both moved through their first-round matches smoothly on Tuesday.

Venus Williams - the No.6 seed and a former finalist here, losing to her sister in 2003 - won through later in the day, beating Lucie Šafářová almost as handily: 6-2 6-2. Williams has now won 27 of her last 28 matches against left-handers.

"Everyone knows how well Lucie can hit the ball," said Williams, who had won all three of their previous meetings, although she did save match-point in their last one. "We've had some tough matches in the past, and I wanted to stay focused and execute my game. It was a great way to start."
<<<

First round (www.lucie-safarova.com)
>>>
Lucie lost to a strong-playing Venus Williams 2-6 2-6. But she is still competing in the doubles-competition, where she teamed up with friend Aleksandra Wozniak from Canada.

In the first set, Williams was the stronger player who was more aggressive. Although Lucie had two break-chances, she couldn't use them because the number 6 seed served too well in these situations. However, Lucie wasn't able to came back after an early 3-0 lead for her opponent. At the end of the first set, Lucie started playing better, but she lost this first set 6-2.

The second set began perfectly for Lucie: she broke her opponent's serve right at the beginning and led 1-0; unfortunately, Williams broke back immediately.

Up to this, Lucie improved her game, making fewer unforced errors and some great winners.

In the end, Venus got the important points and games, and won that match.

Venus said about Lucie and the game: "I was playing a really talented player. Everyone knows how well Lucie can hit the ball. She definitely gets a lot of pace, and she's left-handed. We've had some tough matches in the past. I just wanted to stay focused and execute my game. This was a great way to start."
<<<

Out of the spotlight (Eleanor Preston, www.australianopen.com)
>>>
Venus Williams sounded a little relieved after easing past able Czech Lucie Šafářová 6-2 6-2 in what looked - on paper at least - to be a difficult first-round draw for the former Australian Open finalist.

"I was playing a really talented player. Everyone knows how well Lucie can hit the ball," she said.

"She definitely gets a lot of pace, and she's left-handed. We've had some tough matches in the past. I just wanted to stay focused and execute my game. This was a great way to start."

Williams has not had the sort of results at the Australian Open that a player of her confidence and stature might expect - at least not recently. As a consequence - and also because the likes of Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters have captured the media and public imagination so much of late - Williams has come into the event being talked about less than her rivals. That, she says, is just the way she likes it.

"I don't think about the headlines. My whole life has been a headline, and I've never in my career aimed to get headlines. I aim to win matches. That's pretty much my aim here: to win matches," she said.

As is her wont, Williams chose to play an exhibition-event rather than Tour-level matches ahead of the first Major of the season, and though a similar lack of élite competitive matches might have hurt first-round casualty Maria Sharapova, Williams says she is happy coming in a little cold.

"Obviously working hard in practice and executing in practice isn't as easy as doing it in a match. But I think definitely, I mean, my years of experience playing on Tour definitely helps a lot with knowing how to come back, and try to hopefully play well every time."

Williams was asked what her ambitions still were, and it was clear from her answer that the list is still very long. "I want to win every match," she said. "But I love playing. I want to win each tournament I play. I want to win the Majors, play doubles, and be in the Olympics. I feel like I have so much left in my strings. To accomplish, would be more good times on the court."

The Australian Open and the French Open are the two Majors that Williams has yet to win, and she would dearly love to emulate her sister Serena's success at Melbourne Park. She was beaten in the second round of last year's tournament by Carla Suárez Navarro, and has not made it past the quarter-finals since she was runner-up to Serena at the 2003 tournament.

Venus will turn 30 in July of this year, but so far, she says that she feels no ill effects from being one of the older players in the draw.

"No, and no wrinkles yet, either, so thankfully that's working out," she said.

"To be honest, when you're on the court, age doesn't matter. So I never think really about my opponent's age at all. So far, though, I'm fast and strong, and maintaining that is great."
<<<

-------------------------------
3. Women's Doubles: First round (Thursday 21st January 2010)
-------------------------------

- Lucie Šafářová [EF]/Aleksandra Wozniak lt. Elena Baltacha/Liga Dekmeijere, 5-7 2-6

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
__________________
My Eternal Fanship: 1. Monica Seles; 2. Мария Шарапова (‘Maria Sharapova’); 3. Daniela Hantuchová; 4. Jelena Dokić; 5. Iva Majoli; 6. Karina Habšudová; 7. Вера Звонарёва (‘Vera Zvonarëva’); 8. Nicole Vaidišová; 9. Анна Чакветадзе (‘Anna Chakvetadze’); 10. Lucie Šafářová; 11. Ирода Туляганова (‘Iroda Tulyaganova’); 12. Magdaléna Rybáriková; 13. Sabine Lisicki
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