Venus, Henin advance at U.S. Open
NEW YORK Venus Williams overcame a few glitches and Justine Henin ran right into the next round Wednesday at a U.S. Open where the favorites kept rolling.Williams had a couple of speed bumps six double-faults, 20 unforced errors in beating Ioana Raluca Olaru of Romania 6-4, 6-2.After launching a Grand Slam-record 129 mph serve in her opening match, Williams reached a top speed of 124 mph and had to be content with only one ace. The two-time Open champ moved into the third round.Henin also advanced into the third round, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-0.The top-seeded Belgian, bidding for her seventh major title, broke Pironkova’s spirit midway through the final set. Henin raced back to the baseline, her legs churning at a full speed for a shot that eventually won her the point. Pironkova flipped her racket in the air, then tried to catch it and missed.Former Open champion Marat Safin, crowd pleaser Ana Ivanovic and Elena Dementieva also won in straight sets.”Hopefully, it’ll continue this way and keep it short,” Safin said.Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic were scheduled later in the day. Tim Henman, playing his final Grand Slam event, was set to play his first-round match.So far, No. 9 Daniela Hantuchova was the lone top-10 player to lose. In all, it was an early breeze for those at the top.A night earlier, Maria Sharapova was positively giddy.About her sparkling red dress. Her bejeweled handbag. Her picture in the hallway leading to center court. About everything at the U.S. Open, really.Then someone asked whether, by chance, she ever felt badly for an opponent she was pounding.Sharapova’s eyes narrowed. Her smile disappeared, she shook her head.”No,” she said, flatly.Decked out for success in an outfit adorned with 600 crystals, Sharapova was all business Tuesday night. Staring the whole way, she humbled Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-1.”It’s difficult to play against her,” the 51st-ranked Italian said. “Strong player. Nice girl. She has a nice dress.”Ah, the red flared shift dress. Plus a cropped black jacket with sheer sleeves, pearl earrings from Tiffany & Co. and a patent leather bag for her rackets.”Put on a nice outfit and some makeup,” Sharapova said, “and you’re the bomb.”After the second-seeded Russian finished her demolition, Andy Roddick and Justin Gimelstob put on quite a show that capped the day’s parade of champions.Bantering a bit during the match and much more after it ended, Roddick defeated his good friend 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-3. Then they took turns interviewing each other on the court, and Gimelstob saluted the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium after his final singles match at the U.S. Open.Asked by Roddick what he’ll miss most, Gimelstob answered: “That feeling walking onto center court. You don’t get that in the real world,” he said.”We kind of live in a fantasy world,” he said.Later, during a joint interview session, Roddick acted surprised when the 475th-ranked Gimelstob said he planned to play three more tournaments this fall.”I thought I finished you,” Roddick poked.For former champs Lleyton Hewitt, Martina Hingis, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Open will go on. Along with Sharapova and Roddick, they all won in straight sets.
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