Williams advances at Acura Classic

July 31, 2007 09:35 AM
CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) -- Venus Williams bounced back from a slow start in her first tournament since winning Wimbledon to defeat Anastassia Rodionova 6-3, 6-0 in a first-round match at the Acura Classic on Monday night.

Williams, the six-time Grand Slam champion, needed just 50 minutes to finish off her Russian opponent. Williams was playing her first tournament since defeating France's Marion Bartoli in straight sets to win her fourth Wimbledon title on July 7.

"I felt that I had to tell myself to give that extra effort,'' Williams said. "It's the ultimate challenge to play someone so competitive right after Wimbledon.''

The pair were on serve at 4-3 in the first set when Williams broke through on a forehand service return winner to take a 5-3 lead. Williams quickly broke Rodionova's serve twice at the start of the second set to jump out to a 3-0 lead and closed out the set in 21 minutes.

"I was going for a lot,'' Williams said. "I just felt really aggressive, like I want to get the ball, move forward and go for it.''

In the other night match, No. 13 Tatiana Golovin beat Gisela Dulko, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

Earlier Monday, ninth-seeded Elena Dementieva survived a scare as she rebounded for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over Catalina Castano. Dementieva, the highest seed to play on the tournament's opening day, struggled against her wild-card opponent from Colombia. But the Russian blew through the final set in impressive fashion to advance.

Dementieva appeared to be on her way to a routine win against an outmatched opponent when she broke Castano's serve then held her own serve for a 3-1 lead in the second set. But Castano broke Dementieva's serve twice as she won five straight games to take the second set.

After each player held serve to start the third set, Dementieva reeled off the final five games for the victory.

In the other matches involving seeded players, No. 11 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland defeated American Jamea Jackson, 6-2, 6-1, and 14th-seeded Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine was pushed to three sets before beating China's Shuai Peng, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Although seeded only 10th for this tournament, Williams enters on hot streak. Not only did Williams win Wimbledon, but she was impressive for the United States in the Fed Cup semifinals against Russia one week later. Williams defeated Anna Chakvetadze, ranked sixth in the world and the winner of the last two WTA tournaments, and ninth-ranked Nadia Petrova.

Williams, the winner of this event from 2000-2002, is coming off an injury-marred 2006 season that also slowed her at the start of the year. But the former world No. 1 has rebounded and her ranking has improved from No. 54 at the beginning of the season to her current spot at No. 17.

The Acura Classic, traditionally one of the toughest of the non-major tournaments, has one of it weakest lineups in years. Only four of the WTA's top 10 players are entered in the event.