Venus shows true grit to progress at China Open

BEIJING, (Reuters) – American Venus Williams rode out  a second set implosion to reach the second round of the $6.6  million China Open with a 6-2 7-6 defeat of Russian Vera  Dushevina yesterday. The world number three was the main attraction on the  opening day of the WTA’s new “crown jewel” event and she served  up a masterclass in grit and determination on the court where  she won Olympic doubles gold with her sister Serena last year.    Far from faultless  from the start, Williams nevertheless  always looked like having too much raw power for the 47th ranked  Russian and wrapped up the first set in less than half an hour  with a couple of blistering aces.

After failing to muster a single break point in the first  set, Dushevina then raced to 4-0 lead at the start of the second  and left Williams shaking her head in disbelief at how her touch  had so completely deserted her.

“It got away from me a bit,” Williams told reporters. “I  started making too many errors, she made some good shots and it  quickly became a bit of a deficit for me,”
Williams has not won seven grand slam titles without knowing  how to fight when necessary, however, and she dug deep to win  the next five games and, after a brief Dushevina rally, claimed  the tiebreak 7-1 when her opponent went long.

“I was determined to win the set and ended up playing some  good quality tennis out there. I knew if I kept getting games it  would make her uncomfortable and make her start thinking about  it,” Williams added.

She next plays another Russian in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova,  who beat Sybille Bammer of Austria 7-5 6-1. Earlier on centre court, French teenager Alize Cornet  provided the upgraded tournament with its first upset by  defeating 15th seeded Australian Samantha Stosur 6-4 4-6 6-3.

In other first round action, Italian 10th seed Flavia  Pennetta came through a tough encounter with local hope Han  Xinyun 7-6 6-2 to take her place in the second round. The draw had to be re-jigged after former world number one  Ana Ivanovic withdrew from the tournament and called a stop to  her season because of a respiratory problem.

Defending champion Jelena Jankovic also said her  participation was in doubt after being forced to retire with a  wrist injury during the final of the Pan Pacific Open against  Maria Sharapova on Saturday.

The Serbian eighth seed said she would see how the injury  responded to treatment before deciding whether to go to China.

The ATP tournament gets underway on Monday with world number  two Rafael Nadal heading a strong field.

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