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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2006, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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Australian Open 2006

Serena Williams hits the shops

13jan06

ONE thing US tennis ace Serena Williams loves to do in Melbourne is shop.

Williams has already hit Chapel St, spending lots of time in the Wayne Cooper boutique trying on expensive dresses.



As always, she was accompanied by an entourage, who were more excited about finding a Starbucks coffee shop to have a drink. Last year, the Williams girls spent tens of thousands of dollars at Versace at Crown, and this year it seems they have a penchant for expensive designer sunglasses.


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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2006, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Venus Williams defends sister
Sam Edmund

13jan06

VENUS Williams has come to the defence of younger sister Serena, saying the defending champ can overcome a lack of fitness at the Australian Open.

Venus, who has been battling injuries of her own in the lead-up to the Open, said Serena was upbeat despite gibes about her weight.



"Serena is OK. I usually don't like to speak for her but I can say she's in good spirits," Venus said.

"I think she would have liked to have no injuries and be healthy but obviously this isn't an option.

"She's an amazing competitor more than anything and even if she's not 100 per cent she'll bank on her ability to compete and use her determination."

The sisters' Melbourne coach Mark Hlawaty scoffed at suggestions his charge was overweight.

Serena's bulkier frame has been the topic of conversation since the Williams entourage arrived from Hong Kong on Monday.

She faces a daunting race against time to reclaim her fitness for the Open, which is now just three days away.

"It (Serena's weight and fitness) is not something we really talk about," Venus said.

"We talk about gossip and guys and all those kinds of things."

Quizzed about those "guys", Venus giggled: "Right now I'm very single and Serena is too. Oh, that's right, I don't speak for Serena, but I think she might be single."

The American siblings sweated it out during a run along the Yarra yesterday morning before Venus did a few laps at the Prahran Aquatic Centre in the afternoon.

In between exercise sessions, she joined fellow US star Andy Roddick to wow fans in the city.

The pair took on each other and a host of celebrities on a specially built court in front of the Arts Centre.

Their appearance formed part of the American Express ACES program, where every ace served on Rod Laver Arena during the Open will earn $100 for the Kids Tennis Foundation.

Organisers are hoping to raise more than $100,000 this year for the foundation, which aims to put a racket in the hands of children in disadvantaged schools.

The tennis stars got the ball rolling early yesterday, raising $15,000 by rocketing down a few aces for the crowd.

Roddick, the world No.2, said he was relishing his time in Melbourne.

"I love being down here, I have great memories from here," he said.

"I just love how it consumes the whole country. The national news is broadcast from the tennis and I think that's pretty cool and says a lot about the interest level." Australian Lleyton Hewitt's prospects received a dent when he was beaten by little known Italian Andreas Seppi at the Sydney International.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 2006, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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Serena joins injury list
By Leo Schlink

09jan06

THE Australian Open faces the prospect of being without its defending champions after Serena Williams joined Marat Safin on Melbourne Park's cast of injured drawcards.

Williams, 24, was forced out of an exhibition in Hong Kong because of an inflamed and swollen knee as Safin fights a losing battle to recover from chronic soreness in his left knee.



Reputedly unfit and lacking confidence, Williams was due to arrive in Melbourne with older sister and reigning Wimbledon champion Venus yesterday.

Williams said she had developed inflammation and swelling in her left knee joint and had been advised to rest and continue treatment to avoid further irritation.

Venus has complained of back and pelvis pain in Hong Kong. The problem is affecting the right-hander's footwork.

Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee said he had received no word from the siblings.

The sisters are due to practise at Melbourne Park this week with Victorian coach Mark Hlawaty, who helped the pair last year.

Wildcard entrant Mark Philippoussis is under a cloud after abandoning plans to contest the Heineken Open in Auckland this week after injuring his back during a doubles semi-final at the Adelaide International last week.

The timing of the back problem is cruel, given the fact Philippoussis has shown signs of reprising his best form. A groin strain forced him out of last year's Melbourne Park major.

Open officials were yesterday optimistic the Victorian would recover.

While French Open champion Rafael Nadal (foot) is given little chance of fronting at Rod Laver Arena by European observers, McNamee said the Spaniard would wait until Thursday to decide.

"Rafael is going to wait until as late as possible before he makes a decision," McNamee said.

"He would probably make his decision before qualifying starts.

"He has not given up hope, but it's going to be tough."

Russian Safin is said to be devastated at his struggle to be fit to defend the centenary Open title he wrestled from Lleyton Hewitt last year after being sidelined for virtually six months with knee soreness.

McNamee said Safin's chances of contesting the Open were fading, but "there is no news". Safin's compatriot and Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova is scheduled to arrive in Melbourne tomorrow.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 15th, 2006, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Williams Adds Bling to Open Banter

/noticias.info/ by Amanda Buivids
Saturday, 14 January, 2006

She may well be hovering three places outside the top 10 and trailing older sister Venus in the rankings, however, Australian Open defending champion Serena Williams looked every part a world No.1 on the eve of this year's event.

Despite her first non-top 10 finish in seven years, the 24-year-old declared herself fully fit and prepared for her seventh Australian Open appearance.

Wearing a bright green T-shirt, two sparkling fuschia pendants and lip gloss from her fashion-line, Williams looked, acted and exuded the confidence of the woman who held aloft the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup 12 months ago.

"I've had more time to prepare this year. I've had more time to prepare mentally and much more physically," she said at a media conference at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

"My preparation has been pretty cool … I've been here almost a week.

"As long as I don't beat myself, I'll be okay."

Since her arrival in Australia, the world No.13 has attracted unsavory attention about her fitness - particularly after her lengthy injury lay-off in 2005 and withdrawal from last week's Hong Kong exhibition tournament.

She was the butt of jokes following the publication of a series of less-than-flattering newspaper photographs of her and Venus exercising along Melbourne's Yarra River.

"I saw one (photograph) of me running. And I was like, wow, my hamstring muscle is that big? I had no idea my muscle was like that," she laughed.

On a serious note, though, the former world No.1 confirmed she was very much focused on the forthcoming fortnight.

"It's usually just one match at a time for me. That's the only way I look at it," she said.

"That's how I've looked at it since day one. If I didn't like my chances of winning, I wouldn't be here.

"If I didn't expect to do well here, I wouldn't be here. It would be better for me to be on the beach, St Baarts, jet skis. It would be much easier."

Despite her carefree response to fitness concerns, she sounded a warning to anyone who questioned her preparation for the first Grand Slam of 2006.

"That's cool with me … that's fine because then people will be like 'Okay, she won't be able to run'. That's a great position to be in."

Setting goals has been part of Willams' repertoire since emerging on the world stage with her first Grand Slam singles title - the US Open - in 1999.

With career prize money totaling more than $US15 million, seven singles Grand Slam titles and 26 career tour titles etched in her scrapbooks, Williams is determined to reclaim the No.1 crown that she first held in July 2002.

The 2005 Australian Open title was the only career high point in an injury-curtailed season.

Plagued by ankle and knee injuries, the fashion design student won only 14 matches from nine events following the Open, reached only one semi-final and failed to qualify for the season-ending championships for the first time since 1998.

"I've always criticised Pete Sampras for saying, you know, he wanted to win lots of Grand Slams," she said on Saturday.

"It was like 'Don't you want to be the best?' I definitely want to be No.1 in the world. I can understand what he's saying because there is nothing like winning a Grand Slam. Both the goals are definitely what I want to do, but it all starts with winning the Slams first."

The confident American plays Na Ling from China in her first round match. The pair will clash in the opening Twilight Session on Rod Laver Arena.

Na Ling is one of seven Chinese players to make the final 128 in the women's singles draw.

With a singles ranking of 57, the 172cm right-hander reached her second career tour singles final in 2005 and briefly held the position as China's highest-ranked woman in tour history.

A semi-finalist in Hobart, Rabat and Bali and a doubles-semi-finalist in Rabat with Australia's Nicole Pratt, Ling will be keen to consolidate her form at the elite level after missing the French Open with an ankle injury and Wimbledon because of commitments in the Chinese national championships.

She reached the third round of the 2005 Australian Open, defeated by Russian Maria Sharapova 0-6 2-6.

"I've always said, everyone talks about the Russians, and I've always thought the Chinese have a great slew of players coming up," Williams said.

"There are so many Chinese players right now. Not only are they in the draw, but they are actually doing well. I'm going to have to be really ready for the match. I'm definitely not under-estimating my opponent at all."

While Serena Williams wore the confidence and bling of her budding fashion and jewellery empire, Venus, too, was happy with her approach to this year's Open.

Ranked three spots higher than her younger sister, Venus is also keen to begin 2006 as a winner - and as Australian Open champion.

"I think I have a decent chance. My whole thing is I'm not thinking about the final right now. I'm so totally focused on the first round, that's my main goal now. Then it will be round two. I'm not taking it too fast," she said.

"At the end of the day, it's always an even playing field. You don't win a match until it's over. You don't win the tournament until it's over. I think it's important not be over-confident. I think that can be a big flaw, a big downfall. I mean, we all saw what happened to Macbeth. You've got to be careful."

The 25-year-old, who claimed the world No.1 crown in February 2002, enters this year's Open at No.10 - a career ranking she believes she will improve on over the next 15 days.

"Hey, in my head, I'm always a champ. I won't usurp anyone's position, anyone ahead of me. They're obviously worked hard to get to that number. So right now I'm going to work on moving up my ranking … you guys all know what number I feel I am …"

Venus Williams meets Bulgaria's Tzvetana Pironkova in her opening round match. A member of the Bulgarian Fed Cup team in 2005, Pironkova, 18, makes her first appearance on the Rebound Ace at Melbourne Park.

Ranked 88 in the world, Pironkova has met Venus Williams on just the one occasion - losing in straight sets in May last year in a semi-final at a Tier 111 tournament in Istanbul, Turkey.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 15th, 2006, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Enigmatic Williams sisters are keen to reign again

Venus and Serena have not been winning as much as they did. On the eve of the year's first grand slam, Richard Evans reports from Melbourne on their attempts to convince us they are as committed as ever

Sunday January 15, 2006
The Observer




All the talk has been of Martina Hingis and Jelena Dokic returning to the tour, but perhaps Venus and Serena Williams ought also to be included in the star-studded group of returnees who will be taking the courts at Melbourne Park this week for the year's first grand slam.

Strictly speaking, the sisters have never been away; it just feels as if they have. How is it possible to think this way considering Serena won this Australian Open title 12 months ago and Venus is the reigning Wimbledon champion? The answer lies in the phenomenal impact Venus and Serena had on their sport when they were winning major titles in that dizzy period between 1999 and 2003. Venus plundered four grand slams during this time, Serena six. It was taken for granted that every time there was a big tennis tournament somewhere in the world, one, or both, would be in the final.


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And then, suddenly, it all changed. A quarter-final at Roland Garros was the best Venus could manage in 2004, while Serena's attempt to defend Wimbledon ended in shocking defeat at the hands of the game's new darling, Maria Sharapova.

Injuries, inevitably, had a lot to do with it because both play unbelievably physical tennis. But it was more than that. To have maintained their vice-like grip on the game they would have to have been one-dimensional personalities. And they are not.

Richard Williams had decided what path they should follow in life and although he pushed them hard, there has never been any suggestion of the sort of treatment meted out by Mary Pierce's father or even Dokic's. They did what Daddy told them to do and, having achieved everything that was asked of them, they turned to other things. Venus is still studying design and has her own company. Serena acts. Despite everything they were trying to say in the little amphitheatre of a media room at Melbourne Park yesterday, the impression remains that they are not always there as far as tennis is concerned. "Tennis has always been number one," Serena said defiantly. "It's my job. It's what I like to do."

We might be able to swallow that if this somewhat complicated young woman had not refused to admit she had any fitness or injury problems on the eve of her first-round match against China's Na Li, a player, incidentally, she said she might have played but that "it might not have been her". It wasn't.

You have to turn to the older sister to interpret the family code. Asked about her own fitness, Venus said: "I am fully fit. If I wasn't fully fit, I would still say I was fully fit." She smiled disarmingly but later, when she said: "In my head, I'm always the champ," one tended to believe her. It is impossible to predict how long they will survive here in Melbourne's fluctuating climate but there is no doubt they are back - if, indeed, they had ever been away.

Among those who have admitted to the kind of injuries that are weakening the men's event, Sharapova and the number-two seed, Kim Clijsters, had better news. Sharapova, having been wrongly diagnosed as suffering from a pulled pectoral muscle, is now thought to have dislocated a rib. Clijsters has been told there is no tear in her left hip muscle. If the reigning US Open champion is fully fit, she will be hard to stop. The same could be said for her compatriot, Justine Henin-Hardenne, who proved her own level of rehabilitation by fighting back from 6-4 4-1 down to beat Francesca Schiavone 7-5 in the third in the Sydney final last week.

It is difficult to be as optimistic about Hingis who has been offered a tough reintroduction into a championship she won three consecutive times from 1997-99. The Swiss has been drawn against Vera Zvonereva, who rose to as high as nine in the world in 2004.

Whatever the result, the sort of response to her return that we have heard from Venus will act as encouragement. Bitter rivals earlier in their careers, Venus now has nothing but praise for Hingis. "I'm really happy for her," she said. "I think you have to live your dreams. More power to her for having the courage and putting the work in to prepare. The sky is the limit for any player out there as long as you are doing it right." Like that other Swiss, Roger Federer, Hingis works very hard at trying to do it right. One can only hope that the game has not passed her by.


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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 15th, 2006, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Weighty Williams draws comment

15/01/2006 11:32:02



Defending Australian Open champion Serena Williams is raising eyebrows ahead of the first major of the year, but not for her standard of play.



The former world number one took to her practice session in a white, figure-hugging outfit, leaving many commenting about her weight.



Williams has been out of tennis for three months after being troubled by knee and ankle injuries, but is not concerned about what people are saying.



She says it could even work to her advantage because opponents may underestimate how fit she really is.



Williams admits while her hamstrings are big, it is not bugging her because she does not read the papers although she has revealed she sneaks a look at the pictures.



The Australian Open starts tomorrow with Williams up against China's world number 52 Na Li.



Meanwhile in the men's lead-up tournaments James Blake has taken out the Sydney International and Andy Roddick won the Kooyong Classic.









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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 15th, 2006, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Williams sisters confirm they are fit for Open
Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:31 AM GMT





By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Serena and Venus Williams assured potential opponents on Saturday they are fully fit for the Australian Open starting on Monday after an injury-plagued 2005.

Although Serena won the Australian Open title and Venus triumphed at Wimbledon, neither has played much since the U.S. Open. Serena, in particular, has been the subject of speculation about her fitness heading into her first round match on Monday.

"I've had more time to prepare this year because I just took (time) off since October," she told reporters. "I've had more time to prepare mentally and much more physically.

"Honestly I've never read any comments about my fitness. I don't read the papers.

Serena said it would be dangerous for her opponents to underestimate her fitness levels.

"It would be like, 'oh, she's not fit'. That's cool with me.

"That's fine because then people will be , 'okay, well, she won't be able to run'. That's a great position to be in."

Venus, who suffered a knee injury and illness last year, said she had now recovered and was 100 percent fit.

"I am fully fit. If I wasn't fully fit, I would still say I'm fully fit. So I'm fully fit," she said with a smile.

"I feel like I've done as much as I could to get ready for this event, so I'm okay.

"I'm very excited. When this time of year rolls around, I always get pretty amped because I'm tired of being home, pretty tired of practising, just ready to get a match.

"It's about that time."

The 25-year-old added the injury breaks had taught her some valuable lessons about what her body could do, indicating that if she turned up for an event she would be a dangerous opponent.

"I was able to learn to accept my limitations. So if I'm unable to play, I shouldn't expect to play or try to play.

"I also learned that when you're injured that you should accept that you're injured and not expect that you'll be better the next day.

"There's going to be a set amount of time, then you'll be better then."

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2006, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Teen wipes out Venus Williams
Bruce Matthews

17jan06

NO ONE is safe in the Australian Open women's draw.
LIVE: scores from the Open</U>
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Wimbledon champion Venus Williams will attest to that after being consigned yesterday to watch younger sister Serena's tilt at the title.



Williams, seeded 10th, was sent packing in the first round by little-known Bulgarian Tszvetana Pironkova, 2-6 6-0 9-7, in an opening-day shock for the record crowd at Melbourne Park.

Ninth seed Russian Elena Dementieva was bundled out, too, beaten 7-5 6-2 by 80th-ranked German Julia Schruff.

A former world No. 1, Williams lost her way after cruising through the first set.

She gave up the second in only 26 minutes before a gripping deciding set on Vodafone Arena.

Pironkova, ranked 94th and among the last group of direct entries into the singles draw, seemed to have squandered the chance of a stunning upset when she failed to serve out the match at 5-3.

But the free-swinging 18-year-old wouldn't yield, even when Williams served for the match at 6-5, breaking one of the world's most lethal serves and hanging tough in her grand slam debut.

Pironkova, who jumped from 295 last year to a season-ending 88th, lists her favourite movie as The Gladiator. One of a pack of hungry teenagers circling the top-ranked personalities, she displayed the no-fear attitude exuded by actor Russell Crowe on the big screen.

Williams was shocked by the result against a young player she allowed only four games on clay in Istanbul last year.

"I'm very disappointed, obviously. I just couldn't pull my game together," Williams said.

"I just somehow fell off my form. But it's the beginning of the year and I feel like I still have a lot of success ahead of me. It's just my first event," Williams said.

She was gracious in defeat despite the ignominy of an opening-day exit from an Open where her previous worst result was a third-round loss.

"She played well in Istanbul and she played very well today. I had so many unforced errors. I just struggled to keep the ball in today. Just couldn't get it right. Obviously she benefited from my largesse," she said.

"This tournament is always a little tricky to get ready for because there's less time and it seems I haven't got quite right on hitting my peak here.

"I usually do a lot better in March. I wish this tournament was in March. That would suit me really well."

Asked if this was an indication that no one was safe in women's tennis, Williams said: "I think this result is an indication that you cannot make 70 unforced errors (she officially had 65) and expect to win a match. That's pretty much what it is."

Pironkova, who started playing at the age of four, recalled watching Williams on TV when she was a child.

"I always loved her game. But I am a professional player, so when I go on court, I should not think about that, that she was kind of my idol," she said.

"In the beginning it was really difficult. I was like, `What is happening here?' And then I got used to it. I just started to play my game.

"When I sat down at the break between sets, I said to myself, `OK, you are here in the Vodafone Arena, you need to show some tennis to the audience'. And that happened."

On whether she can return to her best, Williams said: "I don't care if you believe or anyone else believes because it's me.

"So believe what you want to. There's always going to be naysayers. You may be one of them. I don't know. Guess what? I don't care."

Dementieva, losing finalist at the 2004 French Open and US Open, found her serve constantly under threat by Schruff, who is starting only her second full year on tour.

The Russian lost serve six times to the aggressive 23-year-old.

But there were no concerns for Justine Henin-Hardenne last night with the tournament favourite cruising through her opening round against Poland's Marta Domachowska. The Belgian star was at her clinical best serving at 60 per cent, hitting 17 winners to Domachowska's eight and forcing her opponent to make 25 unforced errors.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2006, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Monday, January 16, 2006 6:50 AM CST
Venus Williams Ousted in First Round

By JOHN PYE

MELBOURNE, Australia - For one set, Venus Williams looked every bit the reigning Wimbledon champion. Then, the rust of a long layoff caught up with her in a flurry of errors Monday as she was knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round by Bulgaria's Tszvetana Pironkova 2-6, 6-0, 9-7 in 2 1/2 hours.

"I couldn't get it right today. But in general, I am playing really well," said Williams, who hadn't played at tour level since late September. "It's just like, `Wow, it was the wrong time to hit wrong.'"

Williams wasn't the only one to struggle in the season-opening Grand Slam event. ADVERTISEMENTaAds = new Array();aAds[0] = new Array();aAds[0][0] = 'sports+index';aAds[0][1] = '16257';aAds[0][2] = 'jpg';aAds[0][3] = 'http://www.wcfcourier.com/marketplace/advertisers/adult16/';aAds[0][4] = '1';displayAd('http://adsys.townnews.com', 'wcfcourier.com', aAds);

Her sister, defending champion Serena, had her own lapses and survived a major workout from 52nd-ranked Li Na of China, who frequently had her breathless from running sideline to sideline.

Serena, seeded 13th, was broken as she served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. She double-faulted twice at 15-30 and won only one point in the tiebreak, but settled down and finished off the 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-2 victory.

"Everyone chokes. I choked today," Serena said of the second set. "I didn't do what I needed to do. Li played some great shots."

Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport needed a few games to find her groove before advancing with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Australian wild-card entry Casey Dellacqua. Masters Cup champion David Nalbandian was cruising, then had to fend off a gutsy comeback attempt by Thai qualifier Danai Udomchoke to win 6-2, 6-2, 1-6, 6-7 (4), 6-1.

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova had an easy time and showed no signs of her sore right shoulder bothering her, smacking 20 winners while downing Germany's Sandra Kloesel 6-2, 6-1. Sharapova said she has seen dozens of doctors during the last six months and is convinced the problem won't get worse from playing.

Venus Williams, the No. 10 seed, wasn't sure if she would stick around to cheer sister and defending champion, Serena. She committed a stunning 65 unforced errors _ 41 in the tense final set in which she was broken while serving for the match at 6-5 _ to 22 for Pironkova. She seemed to lose her rhythm after bashing an overhead out that would have given her double break point in the first game of the second set.

"I just seemed to get to a point there, I just couldn't pull my game together," Williams said. "I don't know what happened. I just was struggling to keep the ball in today. Obviously, she benefited from my largesse."

It was only the third time in 34 Grand Slam tournaments that she has lost in the first round. The last time was the 2001 French Open.

"If I had just 10 less errors, I think this match is a different story," Williams said. "Obviously, she's a very good player and, you know, she stuck in there."

The 18-year-old Pironkova, ranked 94th, said Williams had been one of her idols, but she managed to put that aside. After a nervous start, she relaxed in front of a packed Vodaphone Arena that included a batch of rowdy Bulgarians who waved the national flag and cheered her loudly.

"I always loved her game," Pironkova said. "When I go on court, I should not think about that. I just have to play tennis, and I did. I can say truly I did my best today."

Davenport, seeking her fourth Grand Slam singles title and first since the 2000 Australian, set up three match points with an ace and clinched it in 57 minutes with an overhead winner.

Davenport next faces Croatia's Karolina Sprem, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine.

Davenport spent all but seven weeks atop the rankings in 2005 and reached the finals here and at Wimbledon.

She has a new coach _ David DiLucia _ and a difficult draw at Melbourne Park, with 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and French Open champion Justin Henin-Hardenne in her bracket.

"I feel like I'm ready for the challenges," Davenport said. "I feel like I have the ability to play well and hopefully repeat what happened last year, and go better."

Eighth-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, the 2004 winner, beat Marta Domchowska of Poland 6-2, 6-2.

Former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic, a wild card in her first Australian Open since 2001, crumbled after thinking she'd won in straight sets. Dokic celebrated a forehand on match point at 6-5 in the second set, but it was called long. Virginie Razzano of France rallied to win 3-6 7-6 (6) 6-1.

Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, seeded 17th, overcame Japan's Saori Obata 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 and No. 6 Nadia Petrova defeated Australia's Sophie Ferguson 6-2, 6-1.

No. 9 Elena Dementieva, a semifinalist at the last U.S. Open, was the first seeded player to fall, losing 7-5, 6-2 to Germany's Julia Schruff.

No. 24 Tatiana Golovin and No. 26 Ai Sugiyama soon followed Dementieva. Golovin lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to Mara Santangelo, and Sugiyama went down 6-4, 6-3 to Conchita Martinez Granados of Spain.

On the men's side, No. 8 seed Gaston Gaudio, the 2004 French Open champion, was leading 6-2, 5-0 when Romania's Razvan Sabau retired with an injured arm.

No. 13 Robby Ginepri only needed 1 hour, 19 minutes for a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Austria's Jurgen Melzer.

Also advancing were No. 7 Ivan Ljubicic, No. 11 David Ferrer, No. 16 Tommy Robredo, No. 17 Radek Stepanek and No. 18 Mario Ancic.

James Blake, seeded 20th, downed Jose Acasuso of Argentina 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4).

No. 27 Taylor Dent lost in straight sets to Spain's Guillermo Garcia Lopez and former No. 1-ranked Carlos Moya went down to Andrei Pavel.

In the last night match, men's second seed Andy Roddick faced Switzerland's Michael Lammer.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)

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ABC News

Venus Williams Bumped Early at Australian


Venus Williams Ousted in First Round of Australian Open; Serena Outlasts China's Li in Three Sets


// Venus Williams of the United States reacts to play against Bulgarian Tszvetana Pironkova during the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan 16, 2006. Pironkova upset Williams in the first round 6-2,0-6,7-9. (AP Photo/Steve Holland)


By PAUL ALEXANDER Associated Press Writer

The Associated Press



MELBOURNE, Australia Jan 16, 2006 — For one set, Venus Williams looked every bit the reigning Wimbledon champion. Then, the rust of a long layoff caught up with her in a flurry of errors Monday, and she was knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round with a 2-6, 6-0, 9-7 loss to Bulgaria's Tszvetana Pironkova.

It was only the third time in 34 Grand Slam tournaments she lost in the first round the previous time at the 2001 French Open.

"I couldn't get it right today. But in general, I am playing really well," said Williams, who hadn't played at tour level since late September. "It's just like, `Wow, it was the wrong time to hit wrong.'"






Her sister had her own lapses in the season-opening Grand Slam event. Defending champion Serena Williams survived a major workout from 52nd-ranked Li Na of China, who frequently had her breathless from running sideline to sideline.

Serena, seeded 13th, was broken as she served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. She double-faulted twice at 15-30 and won only one point in the tiebreaker, but settled down and won 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-2.

"Everyone chokes. I choked today," Serena said, referring to the second set. "I didn't do what I needed to do. Li played some great shots."

Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport needed a few games to find her groove before advancing with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Australian wild-card entry Casey Dellacqua. Masters Cup champion David Nalbandian was cruising, then had to fend off gutsy Thai qualifier Danai Udomchoke to win 6-2, 6-2, 1-6, 6-7 (4), 6-1.

Fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova showed no signs of a sore right shoulder, smacking 20 winners while downing Germany's Sandra Kloesel 6-2, 6-1. Sharapova has seen dozens of doctors during the last six months and is convinced the problem won't get worse from playing.

Second-seeded Andy Roddick, rebounding from a first-round loss at the U.S. Open, didn't get the first ace from his powerful serve until the second set but had little trouble in beating Switzerland's Michael Lammer 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. He ended up with seven aces, the last on match point.

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 16th, 2006, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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WILLIAMS AVOIDS FIRST-ROUND SHOCK

Former world number one Serena Williams is breathing a big sigh of a relief after defeating China's Na Li in three sets 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 6-2 to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.

Despite lingering doubts over her fitness, Williams took early control of the match to take out the first set in stunning fashion but she was physically tested in the second.

Competing at her fourth Australian Open and ranked 52nd in the world, Li struggled to match her opponent's strong, hard-hitting game despite putting up a fight in the early parts of both sets.

But the young Chinese star showed her grit in coming back to level the match, taking out the second set in a tie-break after Williams led 5-4, serving for the match.

She also broke Williams in the opening game of the deciding set before the reigning champion cruised to victory by winning six of the next seven games to fly through to the next round.

Williams battled through the match courageously with her sister Venus getting used to cheering from the sidelines after her shock exit from the tournament earlier in the day, at the hands of Bulgarian teenager Tszvetana Pironkova.

Serena will go on to meet Frenchwoman Camille Pin in the second round after her three-set win over Argentinian Mariana Diaz-Oliva.

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2006, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Day 3: Interview with: Serena Williams

/noticias.info/
S. WILLIAMS/C. Pin
6‑3, 6‑1

Q. How much improvement was there on your first‑round match in today's match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was a little bit improvement. I played ‑‑ my first‑round match, my opponent was a different player, so it was a totally different match.

Q. You play Daniela Hantuchova next round. So far it's 3‑0 head‑to‑head. She didn't win a set. How do you look forward for this match?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, she's been playing really well lately. She's no pushover. So I definitely have to be ready for that. Last match was pretty tough.

Yeah, I have to look forward to that.

Q. What do you like about your game today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I like the fact that I was ‑‑ I mean, I think I was playing a little closer to the line.

Q. She has been No. 5 in the world but she dropped. Do you think she's on the way back? She can be again in the top 5?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she's definitely on the way back. I think she's been on the way back for quite some time. She's made a lot of improvements on her game and on everything. So, like I said, she's definitely no pushover.

Q. Could be a threat to you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Everyone's a threat. But I'm real serious and I'm here to be a threat as well.

Q. What do you feel you need to perhaps work on or improve as the two weeks goes on?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just always like to improve my all‑around game, so there's not one thing. I mean, only thing I want to do better is just keep moving the ball around. Other than that, I would just like to keep improving on everything.

Q. How are you feeling after the second match in 48 hours? You said you felt great Monday night. You feel great now today?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm feeling pretty good right now. I'm feeling ready.

Q. Nice to get an easier match like that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Pardon me?

Q. Nice to get an easier match like that?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, those are always nice, so... yeah, for sure.

Q. Did you watch any of Martina's match last night?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I caught a few points here and there.

Q. What did you think?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I thought she played really well.

Q. What do you think about her decision to return to the tour?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think, you know, it's amazing. Everyone can have their dreams, and she's dreaming big, and she should go for any dreams and pursue them to the fullest.

Q. Would you look forward to playing her in the future?

SERENA WILLIAMS: We've always had some great stellar matches, so definitely.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2006, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Serena Williams defeats Pin with ease
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Thursday, January 19, 2006



MELBOURNE, Australia

Serena Williams had seen enough: She nearly was bounced out of the first round of the Australian Open, and her sister headed home after one match.

So the defending champion didn't exactly overlook Camille Pin, a Frenchwoman ranked 130th. Williams pounded the ball, grunting with plenty of oomph in a 6-3, 6-1 victory yesterday to reach the third round.

"Everyone's a threat," Williams said. "But I'm real serious. I'm here to be a threat as well."

Williams dropped serve to trail 2-1 in the opening set but quickly regained control by breaking serve six times. She seemed annoyed with Pin's lack of pace and floating shots, replying with unusual ferocity and finishing with 30 winners.

Williams gave up only three points in the last three games, running her winning streak in Melbourne to 16 matches. She won the title in 2003 and 2005, skipping the 2004 major because of injuries.

"The last two times I played here, I did really well," she said. "I'm just hoping to keep it up."

Next up is 17th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who has never taken a set from Williams.

Williams played only 21 matches after winning this title last year and finishing 21-7 in a season marked by injuries.

Williams needed to recover during the third set of her opening match against 52nd-ranked Li Na. She left little margin for error in her match against Pin, with the memory still fresh of Venus' first-round loss on the same court Monday to Bulgaria's Tszvetana Pironkova.

"It's never as easy as it looks," Williams said. "I definitely had some things I wanted to work on. I like the fact that I was playing a little closer to the lines."

Pironkova's brief run ended yesterday's with a loss to American Laura Granville.

Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport had to scramble to defeat Croatia's Karolina Sprem 7-6 (4), 6-3. Davenport, the 2000 Australian champion, didn't take command until Sprem double faulted at 3-1 in the tiebreaker. She won six of the next seven points.

"To come back and construct a few really good points, it was very key to get out of that," said Davenport, who next plays 25th-seeded Maria Kirilenko.

Maria Sharapova overcame 31 unforced errors and fended off three set points against American qualifier Ashley Harkleroad in the second set to advance 6-1, 7-5.

Sharapova was treated for foot blisters but didn't appear bothered by the shoulder injury that kept her off the circuit for two months. Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champ, knows little of her next opponent, Zuzana Ondraskova.

"I can't worry about my opponent," Sharapova said. "I've got to focus on my game - that's what makes me a great player."

French Open champ Justine Henin-Hardenne, seeded eighth, took the last five games after Hana Sromova turned her ankle badly and won 7-6 (2), 6-1.

With two of the top 10 women out and others struggling against low-ranked players, Henin-Hardenne senses a change.

"We cannot say that the first week is easy for the top seeds," said Henin-Hardenne, the 2004 Australian Open champion.

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2006, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Maria, Serena too strong for small fryAustralian open: Roddick outslugs Moddie, could meet Nalbandian in next week’s semi-finalsPAUL TAIT Posted online: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 0001 hours IST



MELBOURNE, JANUARY 18: Fourth seed Maria Sharapova overcame an annoying blister and put down a brief fightback by American qualifier Ashley Harkleroad to win 6-1, 7-5 and reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Former world No 1 and 2004 Wimbledon champion Sharapova saved three set points in the second set as Harkleroad tried to force a deciding set.

But Sharapova fought off Harkleroad’s challenge with two booming serves, showing few signs of the shoulder injury and lack of match practice that had threatened to derail her chances.

The 18-year-old raced through the first set in just 25 minutes as former college player Harkleroad put up little resistance but the Russian sought treatment for a blister on her Left foot during the change of ends.

She needed treatment several times more during the second set and later said the blister had put her off her game. “I played a really good, solid first set and then all of a sudden I got a blister on my foot and the taping made it worse,” Sharapova told reporters.

The Russian will play unseeded Croatian Jelena Kostanic in the third round and remains on course for a fourth round match against defending champion and 13th seed Serena Williams.

Sania Watch

Sania Mirza (Ind)[32]
versus
Michaella Krajicek (Ned)
Age: 17; Rank: 43;
Australian Open Record
As Qualifier made Rd-2 of main draw in 2005 Hard-court W/L record 2005: 17-5 (6 tournaments)
W/L Record against Top 40 players: 1-2)
Strengths
Very good serve. Not so much power as placement
Big backhand but average forehand
Plays aggressively, likes to be the initiator
Weaknesses
Poor mover on court
Less tour experience
Doesn’t play typical baseline type

Earlier, defending champion Serena Williams issued an ominous warning to her Australian Open rivals as the tournament’s big names started flexing their muscles on Wednesday.

Williams had appeared to be struggling for fitness and form as she stumbled to a three-set victory over Li Na in the opening round, but her 49-minute 6-3 6-1 destruction of the unseeded Camille Pin dispelled any concerns about her game.

Robby Ginepri, Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych all made early exits, leaving Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian as the favourites to meet in next week’s semi-finals.

Second seed Roddick outslugged South African serve-and-volleyer Wesley Moodie 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to remain unbeaten this year following his win in the Kooyong Classic while Nalbandian was due to meet Stanislas Wawrinka in a night match.

World No 1 Lindsay Davenport booked a third-round encounter against 25th seed Maria Kirilenko with a hard-fought 7-6, 6-3 victory over Karolina Sprem.

On a day when several leading women’s seeds scored impressive wins, 2004 champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium beat Hana Sromova 7-6, 6-1 to confirm her position as tournament favourite.

Laura Granville joined Williams and Davenport as the last three Americans in the top half of the women’s draw after she beat giant-killer Tszvetana Pironkova.

The Bulgarian teenager stunned Venus Williams in the first round but crashed back to earth with a 7-5 6-2 defeat to Granville. Croatian Davis Cup hero Ivan Ljubicic limped into the third round with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber. The seventh seed Ljubicic needed treatment for an ugly blister on the little toe of his Left foot. He is drawn to meet Roddick in the quarter-finals while Nalbandian could face a fellow Argentine after eighth seed Gaston Gaudio posted an efficient 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 defeat of German Lars Burgsmuller.


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 2006, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Serena Williams advances at Australian Open

WebPosted Wed, 18 Jan 2006 08:32:22 EST CBC Sports


Defending champion Serena Williams needed less than an hour to win her 16th consecutive match at the Australian Open. Williams, the No. 13 seed, took only 49 minutes to breeze past Camille Pin of France 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday in Melbourne to advance to the third round.

Serena Williams reacts during her second round-match against Camille Pin at the Australian Tennis Open on Wednesday. Williams won in straight sets 6-3, 6-1. (AP Photo/Steve Holand)
The American lost her opening service game to Pin, who is ranked 130th, but the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion rebounded by winning six straight games to win the first set in 25 minutes.

Next up for Williams is a match with No. 17 seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan.

"It's never as easy as it looks," said Williams of her contest against Pin. "I'm just happy to be getting through the rounds."

Also moving on to the next round is World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport who earned a hard-fought 7-6 (4) 6-3 victory over unseeded Karolina Sprem of Croatia.

Davenport is seeking her first Grand Slam title since the 2000 Australian Open.

"After being down in the tiebreaker, to come back and construct a few really good points, it was very key to get out of that," Davenport said.

Davenport next plays No. 25 Maria Kirilenko, who posted a 7-6 (1), 6-4 win over fellow Russian Galina Voskoboeva.

Justine Henin-Hardenne, winner of the Open two years ago, needed one hour, 39 minutes to earn a 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 win over Czech Hana Sromova.

Fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia defeated American qualifier Ashley Harkleroad 6-1, 7-5.

Also advancing were No. 6 Nadia Petrova of Russia and compatriot and Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 14th seed and the 2004 U.S. Open winner.

Nestor ousted in doubles action

In first-round doubles play, Dick Norman of Belgium and Vincent Spadea of the U.S. defeated Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Nestor and Knowles, the number three seeds, won the tournament in 2002.

In singles action, No. 2 Andy Roddick was a straight-set winner over Wesley Moodie, the Wimbledon doubles champion, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.

Roddick dominated the affair, allowing Moodie only one chance at a breakpoint in the match.

"I'll take that most days," said Roddick. "I definitely felt Wes was going to come out and play big like he did, I needed to play well today."

Next up for Roddick is a match against France's Julien Benneteau, a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 winner over Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

No. 7 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, No. 8 Guillermo Coria of Argentina, No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 18 Mario Ancic of Croatia, and No. 20 James Blake of the U.S. also advanced.

The big shocker on Day 3 came when No. 13 Robby Ginepri of the U.S. blew a two-set lead before falling in five sets against Denis Gremelmayr.

The little-known German roared back for a 2-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Ginepri, who reached last year's U.S. Open semifinals.

Ginepri committed a whopping 62 errors in the match that lasted slightly over three hours.

with files from Associated Press

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