Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Less than perfect is OK with Venus

Williams, Roddick notch victories in opening round

The Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England - Venus Williams wants to play better by trying to be less than perfect.

The approach worked at Wimbledon in her opening match Monday, when Williams overcame erratic shotmaking to beat qualifier Stanislava Hrozenska 6-2, 6-2 in 50 minutes.

Williams won Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001 but has come up short in her past six Grand Slam events.

"At times I have to slow myself down and say, 'Venus, every shot doesn't have to be the greatest and the best,' " she said. "Sometimes, it's OK to hit a shot that's regular."

The No. 4-seeded Williams is trying to bounce back from a fourth-round upset loss to Vera Zvonareva at the French Open. The defeat raised questions about her devotion to tennis, an issue that first surfaced when younger sister Serena overtook her last year as the game's dominant player.

Venus was still No. 1 at this time a year ago, but she lost to Serena in four consecutive major finals, including Wimbledon.

"I think a lot of people would love to be in the position I'm in - to even have a chance to win a Grand Slam," she said after beating Hrozenska. "Seeing that I'm in that position, I'm not going to get wistful for other things. ...

"I think a lot of times too much emphasis is put on the Grand Slams also. There are a lot of wonderful WTA events that I love playing."

On the men's side, Andy Roddick hit 14 aces and 21 service winners to beat Davide Sanguinetti 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. He never lost serve and needed only 80 minutes to beat Sanguinetti, who upset Roddick at Delray Beach, Fla., last year.

The 20-year-old American began working this month with Andre Agassi's former coach, Brad Gilbert. The pairing quickly paid off with Roddick's first grass-court title at Queen's Club, and with perhaps the most formidable serve in tennis, he's touted as one of the Wimbledon favorites.

"Roddick is playing the best tennis of his life, maybe, at the moment," three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker said.

Against Sanguinetti, Roddick showed more than just a big serve. On one point he retreated to chase down a lob that landed on the baseline, and with his back to the net, hit a backhand passing shot down the line for a winner. Even Sanguinetti joined the applause.

That was one of 33 winners by Roddick. He faces a potential serving showdown in the second round against Britain's Greg Rusedski, who was scheduled to play later yesterday.

Among those eliminated in the first round were two other Americans, No. 31-seeded Vince Spadea and Robert Kendrick. Spadea lost to Max Mirnyi 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, and Feliciano Lopez beat Kendrick 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4).Also advancing in women's play were No. 2-seeded Kim Clijsters, No. 5 Lindsay Davenport, No. 7 Chanda Rubin and No. 9 Daniela Hantuchova. The only seeded players eliminated were No. 20 Patty Schnyder, beaten by Petra Mandula, and No. 25 Anna Pistolesi, who lost to Samantha Reeves.

Reds can get pitching, but it won't be cheap
Reds vs. Cardinals series preview

NL: Expos throw 7th shutout of year
AL: Rays' Zambrano outduels Clemens
Meeting the Dodger who has the 'Bionic Arm'
Bonds steals 500th base

West waits, wonders

Reigning Met champion shows his salt
Getting to know: Michelle Wie

Giant plays giant-killer at Wimbledon
Less than perfect is OK with Venus
Trailing badly, Guga advances as opponent is injured

Once again, heavyweight division leaves bad taste

Tuesday's sports on TV, radio