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Venus starts Rome Masters with a hard win
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10:02, May 07, 2009

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Venus Williams was taken to three sets in her opener on Monday at the Rome Masters but managed to beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The 28-year-old American, who won the clay court event in 1999, said she didn't mind the extra effort.

Williams appeared in control of the match in the first set, firing eight aces and as many winners in 28 minutes. But as her service level dropped Safarova started playing deep powerful ground strokes and broke Williams in the third game of the second set. Williams was unable to break back and Safarova served out the set 6-4.

In the decider, the fourth-seeded Williams held serve in a crucial third game after saving four break points. She went on to break in the following game, as a forehand by the 22-year-old Czech player went wide, and then again to close out the match.

In the end, Williams had 22 winners, the same as Safarova, and 26 unforced errors to Safarova's 33.

The match was a second-round encounter as the top eight seeded players all have first-round byes in this warm up for the French Open, which begins in three weeks' time.

Also advancing in another second-round match was Victoria Azarenka from Belarus, who had just won the first set 6-0 when her opponent Ayumi Morita of Japan retired with a thigh strain.

In first-round action, Alize Cornet of France, last year's runner up, defeated Ai Sugiyama of Japan 6-3, 7-5, while Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Agnes Szavay of Hungary.

Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland beat Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine 6-0, 6-1.

Anabel Medina Garrigues was the first seeded player to fall, losing 6-2, 6-3 to Anna Chakvetadze of Russia.


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