Venus, Dementieva Winners in San Diego

Posted on July 31, 2007

SAN DIEGO, CA, USA - Playing in her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour match since claiming her fourth career Wimbledon trophy at the beginning of the month, Venus Williams continued to impress, cruising through her Acura Classic opener in straight sets as first round action kicked off at the Tier I event. Elsewhere, Elena Dementieva survived a three set scare against Catalina Castaño.

Williams, the No.10 seed at the La Costa Resort and Spa, stayed on serve in the first set with Anastasia Rodionova until 4-3 and broke away, reeling off eight consecutive games to put away the Russian, 63 60. Williams was particularly sharp on serve, dropping 10 points in her eight service games and never even facing a single break point during 50 minutes of play.

"I don't think I started that fast; I made too many unforced errors and gave her too many points on her serve," Williams declared. "But I was really trying to be aggressive, which was good. It’s been good for me in a way that I've played so many matches, because my game has gotten better. My serve is better."

The Acura Classic has been a very successful stop for Williams previously, three straight titles from 2000 to 2002, as well as a runner-up finish (to Martina Hingis) in 1999 being her best performances at the $1.34-million stop. Her victory over Rodionova on Monday evening extends her win streak here to 15 matches - she didn't play here in any of the years between 2003 and 2006.

Also among Monday's winners was No.9 seed Elena Dementieva, who rebounded from a second set lapse to beat Castaño in three sets, 64 36 61. Dementieva, whose best career performances in San Diego are a 2004 semifinal finish and 2006 quarterfinal finish, won a relatively close first set then jumped ahead 3-1 in the second, only to see the Colombian wild card bounce back with five straight games of her own. In the third, Dementieva was a step above, pummelling forehands from every corner of the court for the three set victory.

Williams and Dementieva were just two of five seeds in action on the first day, and those seeds went 5-0, with No.11 seed Patty Schnyder, No.13 seed Tatiana Golovin and No.14 seed Alona Bondarenko all moving ahead. Schnyder crushed American Jamea Jackson, 62 61; French teenager Golovin rallied past Argentine Gisela Dulko in three sets, 61 26 62; while Bondarenko survived a one-hour, 39-minute duel with hard-hitting Chinese star Peng Shuai, 36 63 64.

Also among the winners were recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist Michaella Krajicek, who beat Ukrainian qualifier Yuliana Fedak, 67(6) 75 62; qualifier Anne Kremer of Luxembourg, a 57 64 62 winner over one of this summer's most in-form players, Akiko Morigami; and Russia's Elena Bovina, still on her injury comeback, who beat American Coco Vandeweghe, 63 75. Bovina, who was once ranked as high as No.14 in the world, has been struggling during the last few seasons with a number of injuries. Her first round win over wild card Vandeweghe was her first win since beating Golovin in the third round of Roland Garros in May 2005.

Three tandems won matches to move into the second round of the doubles draw, namely Vania King and Peng, Krajicek and Bethanie Mattek, and Hsieh Su-Wei and Alla Kudryavtseva.

More seeds take the court on Tuesday as the first round finishes and the second round begins. Among the names in the line-up are No.2-seeded Jelena Jankovic, No.4 seed Nadia Petrova and No.5 seed Marion Bartoli. First up under the lights is No.7 seed Martina Hingis, who will play the big-serving Krajicek. (WTA)