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<font size=+2>Roundup: No Problem for Venus in Gold Coast Tourney</font>

Compiled From Wire Reports

GOLD COAST, Australia (Jan. 2) -- American Venus Williams made a winning start to her Australian campaign on Wednesday with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Switzerland's Patty Schnyder in the Australian women's hardcourt championship.

The world No. 3 and top seed, who had a bye through to Wednesday's second round, landed seven aces in the 52-minute match as players and fans battled high temperatures at the Gold Coast in Queensland.

"I really couldn't believe the shots I was making," the Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion said. "I haven't played since the U.S. Open in September and I surprised myself. The first game I hit a few winners and I didn't even expect it and I was on a roll from there.

"It was very hot... That's what I've been training for since I've been here. It is similar to a Florida summer and the best thing I did today was not practise very long."

Williams is using the championship as part of her preparations for the Australian Open from Jan. 14-27 in Melbourne.

The 21-year-old American is on target to meet the second seed and defending champion, Belgian teenager Justine Henin, in the final. Henin lost to Williams in last year's Wimbledon final.

Italian fifth seed Silvia Farina-Elia overcame the heat to beat South Korean qualifier Cho Yoon-jeong 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round.

"I had a lot of ups and downs, probably because of the heat," Farina-Elia said. "We play the summer in Europe but it's not like here."

German qualifier Anca Barna regathered after losing the second set to beat Australia's Nicole Pratt 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

"In the second set, I thought 'I don't know how I am going to get through this,'" Barna said. "It is very hot, especially because I am from Germany where it is minus 20 degrees now."

In Thursday's quarterfinals, seventh-seeded Czech Daja Bedanova plays Slovenia's Tina Pisnik, Nadia Petrova of Russia faces Farina-Elia, Barna plays Henin followed by the match between Williams and eighth-seeded Ai Sugiyama from Japan.
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