Williams fires Aus Open warning
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2008 8:46pm AEDT
American superstar Venus Williams fired a warning shot ahead of the Australian Open, crushing one of her main rivals Maria Sharapova in Hong Kong with a ruthless display of power tennis on Saturday.
Williams was unremitting in her onslaught against the Russian world number four, clinching a straight sets victory 6-4, 6-3 in just 80 minutes.
Despite occasionally reaching for the hamstring she twinged in Friday's victory over Russian Elena Dementieva, the Wimbledon champion smashed a string of aces and her speed round the court proved it was no serious hindrance.
An attritional first set hinged on just two points, after the first nine games had gone with serve.
Williams clinched the break on a unusually long rally in the 10th game, forcing Sharapova to hit a backhand into the net. She then forced another mistake on break point to take the set.
Sharapova seemed unable to cope with the depth of Williams's ground strokes and despite several attempts to smash her way back into the game had to submit after losing her serve in the sixth game of the second set.
The Russian saved two championship points when 5-2 down, but Williams rapped up the game appropriately enough with a heavy serve, setting up an easy forehand winner.
"Venus must be one of the few who can arrive the day before the tournament and end up winning," said Sharapova after the game.
The four-day Hong Kong invitational featured five of the world's top 10 players and is used as a warm up for the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, which starts on January 14.