Venus Williams returns to Porsche GP in winning style

October 1st, 2008 - 3:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Venus WilliamsStuttgart, Oct 1 (DPA) Venus Williams returned to the Porsche Grand Prix after a decade in winning fashion with a 6-1, 6-2 rout over German Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the first round.The Wimbledon champion Williams handily won in 1 hour 7 minutes Tuesday.

Williams lost in 1997 qualifying and last played at the Porsche Grand Prix the following year when she went out in the second round against Belgian Dominique van Roost.

Now she is back as the sixth seed, saying “It was time,” while her sister Serena is the top-ranked player in the field. They are also playing doubles, for the first time since teaming up for Olympic gold last month in Beijing.

Williams was untroubled by Groenefeld, a former top 15 player who is currently ranked 84th after taking nine months off until May.

The American double-faulted on her first two set points but did better on her fourth chance when Groenefeld hit a return long. Williams broke at love in the first game of the second set and wrapped up matters on second match point with a forehand winner.

“I am very happy. Anna-Lena is very talented and hit some great shots. Her plan was to be aggressive, to take it to me. But I have played this style before. My experience helped me a lot,” said the 28-year-old Williams.

Williams had ice on her right elbow and left knee, but shrugged off any injury doubts: “It is normal to put on ice after a tennis match.”

She next meets Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko, a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 winner over Italy’s Flavia Pannetta.

Elsewhere, eighth-seeded Agnieszka0 Radwanska of Poland defeated Czech Sandra Zahlavova 6-3, 6-2, Victoria Azarenko of Belarus beat Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 7-5, 6-3 and Marion Bartoli of France won 6-3, 6-2 against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.

The 2006 champion Nadia Petrova of Russia ousted Czech qualifier Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2, 6-2, while Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova routed French teenager Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1 to set up a second-round date with third-seeded Russian Dinara Safina.

The four top seeds Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Safina and Elena Dementieva have a first-round bye at the event boasting eight top 10 players.

Serena Williams has a slender 21-point lead over Jankovic to lead the WTA rankings, which Jankovic hopes to regain by the end of the season at the latest.

“I feel good and ready to play and am full of confidence. The number one is exciting. Most important to me is to finish the year as the number one,” Jankovic told reporters on Tuesday after arriving from Beijing, where she won the China Open title on the weekend.

Jankovic said she was finally injury-free after several ailments earlier in the year which hampered her performance. She lost the top spot to Williams after the American won the US Open.

“It is a relief (to be injury-free). If I had been healthy it would have made a huge difference,” she said.

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