WILLIAMS THROUGH TO SECOND ROUND
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Former world number one Venus Williams comfortably overcame Russian qualifier Alina Jidkova in straight sets in the first round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
Williams, who was playing her first match since her fourth-round defeat to fellow American Lindsay Davenport in the US Open last month, claimed a 6-4 6-4 victory in 74 minutes at the Olympic Stadium to book a second-round date with Russian wildcard Vera Douchevina.
After struggling to break down her gutsy opponent early on, Williams finally broke Jidkova's serve to lead 5-4 in the first set, and Williams showed all of her experience to close out the set on her own serve.
It looked like the American would overwhelm her opponent when she broke Jidkova early on in the second set.
However, Williams looked a little tight as she tried to put her defeat to Davenport behind her, and a wayward forehand put Jidkova back on terms at 4-4.
Williams, though, broke straight back and with the Russian never looking like battling back to take it to a final set, the number seven seed cruised through her final service game to secure the win.
Meanwhile three Russian stars are safely through to the second round of the tournament.
Elena Dementieva, who was runner-up at the US and French Opens, gave her fans something to shout about by breezing to a 6-2 6-3 win over Patty Schnyder from Switzerland.
The fifth seed, playing in her home city of Moscow, broke her opponent's serve four times en route to the win.
Dementieva's rival Vera Zvonareva easily disposed of France's Nathalie Dechy 6-0 6-2.
Meanwhile Nadia Petrova also posted a straight-sets win, but had to work hard for her 7-5 6-4 triumph over Paola Suarez of Argentina.