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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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Melbourne, Australia (Sports Network) - Venus Williams and former Australian Open champions Martina Hingis and Monica Seles were easy winners Wednesday in second-round action at the first Grand Slam event of the year.

Williams defeated fellow American Kristina Brandi, 6-3, 6-4, in 58 minutes, while Hingis needed just 56 minutes to post a 6-1, 6-2 victory over German qualifier Greta Arn. Seles, meanwhile, had an even easier time with Cara Black of Zimbabwe, earning a 6-1, 6-1 triumph in just 53 minutes.

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The second-seeded Williams is trying for her third straight Grand Slam title, having won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon last year. She was a semifinalist here last year, losing to Hingis, and was a quarterfinalist in 1998 and '99.

Brandi didn't roll over for Williams, who pressed the action with 31 winners and 36 unforced errors. Brandi, meanwhile, had only 10 winners and eight unforced errors, although she did break Williams' serve twice in three chances.

Williams, who converted 4-of-8 break-point opportunities, will next play Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia. Hantuchova, the last of the 32 seeded players, breezed to a 6-0, 6-2 win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin.

The third-seeded Hingis won this championship three straight years from 1997-99, but hasn't won a Grand Slam title since her last victory in Melbourne. She committed just seven unforced errors on Wednesday, while her competitor made 31 and didn't hold serve until the fifth game of the second set.

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Next up for Hingis will be Germany's Barbara Rittner, who disposed of Luxembourg's Anne Kremer, 6-1, 6-4.

The eighth-seeded Seles also hasn't won a Grand Slam crown since the last of her four Aussie Open titles in 1996. The nine-time Grand Slam champion ripped off 24 winners to Black's six and benefited from five double-faults from her opponent. Seles had her serve broken at 5-0 in the second set, but broke right back to win the match.

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"All I'm doing is trying to take it one match at a time," said Seles, who will face Italy's Francesca Schiavone in the third round. Schiavone cruised past Croatia's Jelena Kostanic, 6-1, 6-2.

Other seeded winners on Wednesday included No. 11 Silvia Farina Elia of Italy, No. 13 Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria and No. 15 Amanda Coetzer of South Africa.

Farina Elia had little trouble with American Jennifer Hopkins, posting a 6-2, 6-0 win, while Maleeva notched a 6-4, 7-5 win over the Czech Republic's Kveta Hrdlickova. Coetzer also had an easy time with a 6-3, 6-1 triumph over Rossana Neffa-De Los Rios of Paraguay.

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Also on Wednesday, 17th-seeded Barbara Schett of Austria toppled Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2; 18th-seeded Lisa Raymond won a battle of Americans with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Jill Craybas; while 1998 Australian runner-up Conchita Martinez of Spain fell to Sweden's Asa Svensson, 6-4, 6-1.

Elsewhere, France's Nathalie Dechy needed three sets to beat Germany's Bianka Lamade; Spain's Ana Isabel Medina Garriques posted a straight-set win over No. 21 seeded Czech Daja Bedanova; Italy's Adriana Serra Zanetti knocked off American Amy Frazier in straight sets; and Slovakia's Martina Sucha bested Mariana Diaz-Olivia of Argentina.

Second-round action continues Thursday and features top-seeded Jennifer Capriati, fourth-seeded Kim Clijsters and sixth-seeded Justine Henin in separate matches. Capriati is the defending champion.
 
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