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PLAYING it cool ... Venus Williams completes a forehand return to Switzerland's Patty Schnyder during their match at the Australian Women's Hardcourt Championships at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast yesterday. Williams won 6-0, 6-4. Picture: Simon Renilson.<br /> <br /> <br />Dominant Venus barely has to raise a sweat <br />Paul Malone <br />03jan02<br />VENUS Williams yesterday landed the first blow of her family's intended domination of the Australian summer of tennis by returning to tournament play with all cylinders firing.

Absent from the tour for almost four months since she eclipsed younger sister Serena to win their landmark US Open final, Williams surprised herself with the efficiency of her brutal 6-0, 6-4 drubbing of Swiss former top-10 player Patty Schnyder. <br />Williams escaped the heat of a steamy 38deg Gold Coast day with the first match of her Australian Open build-up completed in 52 minutes at the Australian Women's Hardcourt championships.

The grip-it-and-rip-it queen of American tennis revealed she would regard her preparation for Melbourne Park as insufficient if she did not make Saturday's final before devoting a week to practising for the Open.

"As I haven't played since September, I'd like to play a few matches before the Australian Open because I won't be playing next week," said Williams, who lost only 15 points in eight service games, including eight from double faults.

"It was nice to have some tough points and (four) break points against me. I couldn't believe some of the shots I hit in the first set."

Asked which Grand Slam tournament she would most like to win in 2002, Williams borrowed the one-match-at-a-time mantra of so many other tennis players.

"I'd like to win this one. It's not a lot of fun to lose and when I do, I'm kind of shellshocked," said the world No. 3, who takes a 6-0 career record into her quarter-final today against Japan's eighth seed Ai Sugiyama.

"I've never won the Australian and I'd be honoured to win it.

<br />Williams went on in the less torrid conditions of the late afternoon after officials had delayed a doubles match, played in the sun on an outside court, for 90 minutes under the extreme weather rule.

"It was a little dangerous to go out to play at that stage. If they needed to go on intravenous drips everything was at the ready but no one needed it," said tour supervisor Jim Moore.

Australia's Nicole Pratt, a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 loser to German qualifier Anca Barna, said it was "the hottest I have played in a long, long time".

Williams said she had shortened morning practice to 30 minutes because she had wanted to conserve energy for the match.

The 21-year-old powerhouse drew the usual gasps and howls of reaction from fans seeing her blitzkrieg form of tennis for the first time.

"I want people to be entertained when I play. If I'm not entertaining, I feel I've cheated everyone out of their money," she said.

Fifth seed Silvia Farina-Elia has the cards stacked against her in her quarter-final against doubles partner Nadia Petrova, ranked 39th.

Farina-Elia has lost both previous matches against Petrova, 10 years her junior, and the big-serving Russian had a day off singles while Farina-Elia slogged out a 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3 win over Korean qualifier Yoon Jeong Cho.

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<font size=+2><center>"The grip-it-and-rip-it queen" !!</font></center>

<br />THAT'S RIGHT, dammit!!!! <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">

Bounce Wit Me! <img src="graemlins/bounce.gif" border="0" alt="[Bounce]" />
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