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Venus Leads USA To A Win In Hong Kong Exhibition

Monday, January 12, 2009

HONG KONG (AP) - Venus Williams dominated Russia's Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-2 on Saturday to give Team Americas the victory over Russia in the Hong Kong team tournament, and finish her only warm-up event before the Australian Open without dropping a set in singles play.

In a rematch of the final of the season-ending WTA Championships in November, which Williams won in three sets, the American broke in the first and third games in the first set to go up 3-0. Zvonavera got one break back in the fourth game, but served four double faults and lost serve again in the seventh.

"We both wanted it so badly, so it was a very emotional match for both of us," Williams said. "I think I took the things that I learned from that match (in the WTA Championships) and used it today. That helped me a lot."

Williams continued to dominate the second set, racing to a 4-0 lead after again breaking Zvonareva in the first and third games. Up 5-2, Williams closed out the match with a forehand that clipped the net and dropped in.

The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion also beat top-ranked Jelena Jankovic and Russia's Anna Chakvetadze in straight sets in this tournament -- a lead-up event to the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 19 in Melbourne.

"It's definitely a great way to start the year with wins against such talented players," Williams said.

Earlier Saturday, Argentina's Gisela Dulko came from behind to beat Chakvetadze 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to give Team Americas a 2-1 lead over Team Russia in the best-of-five final.

Both players struggled to hold serve in the first set, with Chakvetadze the first to hold in the sixth game. The world No. 18 broke again in the ninth to take the set.

Dulko broke in the ninth game of the second set and held in the next game to close the set.

Neither player dropped serve in the third set until Dulko broke through, again in the ninth game, and she served out to take the match.

Photos Getty Images

Posted by Shelia

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