Venus survives first-round scare

Venus survives first-round scare

Third seed Venus Williams survived a major scare at Flushing Meadows as she came from a set down to beat Vera Dushevina on the first night at the 2009 US Open.

Having seen younger sister and defending champion Serena Williams cruise into the second round with a 6-4 6-1 win over fellow American Alexa Glatch earlier in the day, the fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium were expecting an equally dominant performance from Venus against a Russian ranked 44 places below her.

It was far from convincing from the American two-time champion, though, who scraped through 6-7 (5/7) 7-5 6-3 in a match lasting two hours and 44 minutes.

Williams had required lengthy treatment on her left knee after just three games and was plagued throughout by seven foot faults during a far from confident outing.

The third seed's normally impressive service was broken six times while she served an uncharacteristic 10 double faults but she pulled out a big service game at 5-4 down in the second set to save the match.

When Williams finally got past the winning post, converting the third match point the smile was more one of relief than celebration.

"She played so well, she moved so well and did so many things well," Williams said of Dushevina on court afterwards.

"I just had a lot of help from my (player's family) box and the fans here.

"I felt so much energy from everyone when I was serving to stay in the match in the second set. It feels good to play at home."

A decade after winning the US Open as a teenager, Serena Williams is looking to recreate the approach that brought the first of 11 Grand Slam titles.

"Ten years ago I definitely wasn't a favourite," Williams said. "I felt like I had nothing to lose and I like that attitude.

"When you play with that attitude then you can go a really long way. That's how I would like to approach it this year."

Venus is on course for a fourth-round meeting with former champion Kim Clijsters.

The Belgian wild card brushed aside world number 79 Viktoriya Kutuzova of Ukraine 6-1 6-1 in just under an hour.

The 26-year-old Belgian was playing in New York for the first time since winning the 2005 women's singles title, having retired from tennis in 2006 to start a family.

In just her third tournament back, and with victories against top 20 players Patty Schnyder, Marion Bartoli, Victoria Azarenka and Svetlana Kuznetsova already under her belt, Clijsters needed just 58 minutes to get past Kutuzova to set up a second-round tie with 14th seed Bartoli.

The Frenchwoman, beaten by Clijsters in Cincinnati earlier this month, got past Paraguay's Rossanna de los Rios 6-1, 6-0.

"Obviously the girl made a lot of mistakes today but I really felt like I was able to do what I had to do and work on the things that weren't going as well in Cincinnati and Toronto," Clijsters said.

"I really feel like my serve was one of the things that didn't go so well there.

"It was really good today, so that's just a nice improvement.

"Now it's just a matter of trying to keep this going."

Russia's Vera Zvonareva, seeded seven, advanced 6-0 6-4 at the expense of Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives while eighth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus eased through to round two with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru.

Azarenka's potential fourth-round opponent, 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, dispatched Austrian Patricia Mayr 6-1 6-2.

Tenth seed Flavia Pennetta won her opener 6-0 6-4 against Romanian Edina Gallovits while fellow Italian, number 26 seed Francesca Schiavone also progressed, defeating Austrian qualifier Yvonne Meusburger 6-1 6-2.

Estonia's Kaia Kanepi was the first women's seed to be knocked out, the number 25 going down 6-0 2-6 6-2 to qualifier Kai-Chen Chang from Taipei and Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez joined Chang in the second round by ousting number 28 Sybille Bammer of Austria, 6-4 1-6 7-6 (7/5).

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