Sluggish Serena rolls into third round at JPMorgan

July 21, 2004 08:45 PM

By Paul Levine
SportsTicker Contributing Writer

Serena Williams smiles at a press conference held to announce a bobble head made in her likeness during the JP Morgan Chase Open© Jeff Gross/Getty Images
CARSON, California (Ticker) -- Although Serena Williams returned to her winning ways, her new smiling Bobblehead doll appeared happier than her.

The top-seeded Williams overcame the heat to defeat Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) in a second-round match Wednesday in the $585,000 JPMorgan Chase Open at the Home Depot Center.

Williams was presented with the souvenir Monday and showed it off two days later during an otherwise uninspired meeting with the media.

"This is something special for this tournament. It's a great Bobblehead," said Williams, a two-time winner here. "I really had a lot of support from the tournament here, and it being my home, they went out and did something special. It's only available here."

Williams was not involved in the creation of the collectible but gave two thumbs up to the smiling likeness, which was dressed in pink and adorned with a white headband, a silver necklace with a heart, a silver bracelet and a racquet in hand.

"I had nothing to do with the design," she said. "But they did a really good job with the outfit down to the necklace, though I normally wear hearts."

In the featured night match, third-seeded Lindsay Davenport, a three-time champion here, bounced lucky loser Anne Kremer of Luxembourg 7-5, 6-2, in 65 minutes to join Williams in the third round.

In other second-round matchups involving seeded players, No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia ousted Maria Vento-Kabchi of Venezuela, 6-3, 6-3, and No. 6 Ai Sugiyama of Japan eliminated Australian Nicole Pratt 6-2, 6-4.

Eighth-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia advanced via walkover when Tina Pisnik of Slovakia suffered a neck strain in a transportation accident in the arena. No. 9 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland was bounced by Croatian Jelena Kostanic, 6-1, 7-6 (5).

Williams was making her first appearance following a stunning defeat to Russian teenage sensation Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon final on July 4.

Contrary to her lethargic postmatch interview, Williams played aggressively and controlled the 72-minute match despite an uneven effort and a brief second-set letdown.

Wearing a "lime time" one-piece outfit, she overcame temperatures on the court of nearly 100 degrees.

"I was solid but struggled too much, especially in the second set," Williams said. "It was just too hot out there to be too cheerful."

Williams has won all four career meetings with Daniilidou, but the two have had some close battles, including Williams' 6-4, 6-4 win in March en route to the NASDAQ crown in Miami.

"Usually we have tougher matches, but I was winning easy, then I was up a break in the second and then I kind of got too excited," said Williams, who has tumbled from the top ranking to 16th after undergoing left knee surgery last August.

After Williams captured the opener, she broke service to go up, 3-1. Daniilidou returned the favor in the sixth game, and the two battled to a tiebreaker, which Williams controlled.

"I knew going into the tiebreaker I'd have a really good chance of winning it, the way I was serving," Williams said. "I played a really good tiebreaker."