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Venus Takes Charge In Hong Kong

Thursday, January 8, 2009

HONG KONG (AFP) — Venus Williams crushed world number one Jelena Jankovic in straight sets Thursday, inspiring the Americas to victory over second seeds Europe at Hong Kong's World Team Challenge.

The Wimbledon champion pulled her team level after the Americas lost their opening doubles clash and in Thursday's late evening match Gisela Dulko beat Agnes Szavay 6-4, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3 to take her team through to the gold group final.

In the final, the Americas will face top seeds Russia, who won all three of their matches against Asia-Pacific.

Williams seized control early in her match with Jankovic and never let up, breaking twice in each set for a 6-2, 6-2 win.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion broke the Serbian in the first game of the match, racing into a 4-0 lead, unfurling a series of unanswerable ground strokes.

Williams, who trails Jankovic 4-5 in head-to-heads on the WTA tour, broke again in the third game of the second set and went on to seal the match with the help of another break.

"I had a good start. I think it put some pressure on her. I also wasn't giving her the errors I usually give to her, lots of errors," said Williams, who beat Jankovic in their last meeting at the season-ending WTA Tour Championships.

The world number six said she had a "great feeling" about the upcoming season and was going to use the knowledge she had gleaned from her last two tournaments in 2008, both of which she won.

Williams, looking to win her first Australian Open title, said she was not surprised to be off to such a strong start against a powerful opponent.

"I've always been a good player off the jump. That's always been the way I've played throughout my career," she said.

Jankovic said she had found her first singles match of the season tough.

"It was very hard to get into the match. I felt very slow on the court and didn't really get my rhythm out there," she said.

"But it's the first match of the season so I can't expect myself to play the best tennis, which is normal."

Photo By Getty Images

Posted by Shelia

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