Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Smiling Serena is back on track


Top women are cruising early

The Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England - Three points into her first match since the Slam Streak ended, Serena Williams faulted. The Centre Court crowd responded with - silence.

Ah, such sweet silence.

Trying to forget the French Open - all of it: the loss to Justine Henin-Hardenne, the fans who cheered her mistakes, the postmatch tears - Williams was close to her powerful best at Wimbledon in a 6-3, 6-3 first-round win Tuesday over Jill Craybas.

"Whatever happened in Paris," the top-seeded Williams said, "stays in Paris."

Never was there a hint she might stumble the way fellow defending champion Lleyton Hewitt did Monday, losing to a qualifier ranked 203rd.

"I'm sure he didn't take his opponent for granted, but I didn't want to come close, either. I wanted to make sure I was on my toes," Williams said. "I didn't want to make history by having two No. 1 defending champions go out."

Instead, the first round provided more evidence that the gulf between the top players and other women is far greater than among the men. The highest-seeded woman to lose so far is No. 19 Meghan Shaughnessy, and none the top 10 so much as dropped a set. That included No. 3 Henin-Hardenne and No. 8 Jennifer Capriati.

Eleven seeded men are gone already. No. 7 Guillermo Coria (a French Open semifinalist 21/2 weeks ago), No. 21 Martin Verkerk (the French Open runner-up), No. 14 Xavier Malisse (a Wimbledon semifinalist last year), and No. 20 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (a two-time major champion) all joined Hewitt on the way out.

Even 1992 champion Andre Agassi - trying to break the record for most years between Wimbledon titles - and four-time semifinalist Tim Henman dealt with moments of trepidation against undistinguished opponents.

The 33-year-old Agassi, oldest No. 1 in ATP Tour history and owner of eight Grand Slam titles, eliminated 456th-ranked Jamie Delgado 6-4, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4. Henman got past 157th-ranked Tomas Zib 6-2, 7-6 (11), 3-6, 6-1.

"It again goes to emphasize the strength and depth of the men's game. In the top 200 or 250, everybody can play," said Henman, again trying to become the first Englishman since 1936 to win Wimbledon.

Six men shared the past six Grand Slam titles. Just a trio of women - the Williams sisters and Capriati - split the 11 majors preceding the French Open.

Henin-Hardenne, of course, claimed her first major at Roland Garros after ending Williams' 33-match winning streak and four-title run at Grand Slams. That surprise came in the semifinals; they could meet at the same stage at Wimbledon.

In beating Julia Vakulenko 7-5, 6-1 Tuesday, Henin-Hardenne showed no ill effects of the hand injury that forced her to quit in the final of a tuneup event Saturday. Her left (non-racket) hand and two fingers were bandaged.

"It's sore and painful," Henin-Hardenne said. "But when I'm focused on the match, I can forget it a little."

Williams was quite focused against Craybas, an American ranked 66th, and now has won 16 straight sets at Wimbledon.

"She does so many things well," Craybas said. "She moves well. She can crack the ball when she wants."

That power is a big reason Williams and her sister, Venus, surged to the top of women's tennis in the past few years. Their success led others to tone up, too.

"Everyone is getting more muscles now. Everybody is looking stronger, acting stronger and playing stronger, for sure," Serena Williams said. "The whole level of the game has definitely lifted from when I first began."

And now the WTA Tour is embracing that aspect of its stars with a marketing campaign launched this week. Posters show close-up shots of players' muscles and grimaces as they smack shots. The tagline: "Get in touch with your feminine side."

"Wherever you go on tour, the gyms are packed. People are working out, trying to get faster and stronger," Craybas said. "I think that started with Martina Navratilova. But maybe because the Williams sisters are so strong, that's driven more people."

As in control as she was against Craybas, Williams never seemed quite satisfied with her performance, sometimes shaking her head or frowning after winning a point. Midway through the second set, she chastised herself for an errant forehand by tapping her racket on her forehead.

Williams was aggressive, hammering six aces, collecting 26 winners, and taking the point on all nine trips to the net - an aspect of her game that troubled her in Paris.

All in all, the defeat there against Henin-Hardenne was difficult for Williams, who had to contend with a mean-spirited audience and some gamesmanship from the Belgian.

"I was a little upset for a few days," Williams said. "Everything you go through is a learning experience. It definitely made me stronger. I hate to lose. I just don't enjoy it all, under any circumstances."

Now, at least, she can laugh about the way she reacted right after the match.

Asked Tuesday about having cried, Williams was quick to correct her questioner.

"My eyes," she pointed out, "were watering."

Wimbledon Results

Tuesday

At The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club

Wimbledon, England

Purse: $15.56 million

Surface: Grass-Outdoor

Singles

MEN

First Round

Cyril Saulnier, France, def. Xavier Malisse (14), Belgium, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Olivier Rochus, Belgium, def. Guillermo Coria (7), Argentina, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Mark Philippoussis, Australia, def. Mariano Zabaleta, Argentina, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Radek Stepanek (35), Czech Republic, def. Michal Mertinak, Slovakia, 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-4.

David Nalbandian (6), Argentina, def. Vladimir Voltchkov, Belarus, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

Karol Kucera, Slovakia, def. Wayne Ferreira (28), South Africa, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Arnaud Clement (15), France, def. Robby Ginepri, United States, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (3), 10-8.

Anthony Dupuis, France, def. Richard Bloomfield, Britain, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-3.

Tim Henman (10), Britain, def. Tomas Zib, Czech Republic, 6-2, 7-6 (11), 3-6, 6-1.

Nicolas Massu, Chile, def. Zeljko Krajan, Croatia, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.

David Ferrer, Spain, def. Martin Lee, Britain, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.

Andre Agassi (2), United States, def. Jamie Delgado, Britain, 6-4, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.

Younes El Aynaoui (27), Morocco, def. Mark Hilton, Britain, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Gilles Elseneer, Belgium, def. Nicolas Kiefer, Germany, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Scott Draper, Australia, def. Paul-Henri Mathieu, France, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Andre Sa, Brazil, def. Mariano Puerta, Argentina, 6-2, 3-2, retired.

Juan Carlos Ferrero (3), Spain, def. Jean-Rene Lisnard, France, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3.

Jiri Novak (11), Czech Republic, def. Luis Horna, Peru, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1, 6-1.

Robin Soderling, Sweden, def. Martin Verkerk (21), Netherlands, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1.

James Blake (26), United States, def. Todd Larkham, Australia, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.

Michael Llodra, France, def. David Sanchez, Spain, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-3.

Sargis Sargsian, Armenia, def. Alex Bogdanovic, Britain, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

Alexander Popp, Germany, def. Hicham Arazi, Morocco, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Stefano Galvani, Italy, def. Julien Boutter, France, 6-3, 2-6, 1-6, 6-2, 8-6.

Takao Suzuki, Japan, def. Dick Norman, Belgium, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Nicolas Escude, France, def. Konstantinos Economidis, Greece, 7-6 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Frederic Niemeyer, Canada, def. Felix Mantilla (22), Spain, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6 (3).

Jarkko Nieminen (30), Finland, def. Fernando Verdasco, Spain, 6-7 (8), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Wesley Moodie, South Africa, def. Marc Rosset, Switzerland, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Wayne Arthurs, Australia, def. Alberto Martin, Spain, 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (4).

Raemon Sluiter, Netherlands, def. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (20), Russia, 7-5, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Sebastien Grosjean (13), France, leads Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, susp., darkness.

Lars Burgsmuller, Germany, leads Albert Montanes, Spain, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 1-2, susp., darkness.

WOMEN

First Round

Laura Granville (28), United States, def. Alina Jidkova, Russia, 6-1, 6-4.

Elena Dementieva (15), Russia, def. Angelika Roesch, Germany, 6-2, 6-1.

Alicia Molik, Australia, def. Dinara Safina, Russia, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

Emmanuelle Gagliardi, Switzerland, def. Stephanie Cohen Aloro, France, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Martina Sucha, Slovakia, def. Gala Leon Garcia, Spain, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

Jelena Dokic (11), Serbia-Montenegro, def. Elena Baltacha, Britain, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

Elena Likhovtseva (31), Russia, def. Lindsay Lee-Waters, United States, 4-6, 6-2, 8-6.

Aniko Kapros, Hungary, def. Meghann Shaughnessy (19), United States, 6-3, 6-2.

Serena Williams (1), United States, def. Jill Craybas, United States, 6-3, 6-3.

Akiko Morigami, Japan, def. Tamarine Tanasugarn (32), Thailand, 6-4, 6-3.

Tatiana Perebiynis, Ukraine, def. Barbora Strycova, Czech Republic, 6-4, 5-7, 11-9.

Els Callens, Belgium, def. Barbara Rittner, Germany, 6-3, 7-5.

Anastasia Myskina (10), Russia, def. Henrieta Nagyova, Slovakia, 6-4, 3-0, retired.

Karolina Sprem, Croatia, def. Iveta Benesova, Czech Republic, 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Lina Krasnoroutskaya, Russia, def. Julie Pullin, Britain, 6-3, 6-1.

Arantxa Parra, Spain, def. Zuzana Ondraskova, Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-2.

Emilie Loit, France, def. Alexandra Stevenson (26), United States, 7-5, 7-6 (2).

Svetlana Kuznetsova (33), Russia, def. Bea Bielik, United States, 6-1, 6-3.

Maria Sharapova, Russia, def. Ashley Harkleroad, United States, 6-2, 6-1.

Eleni Daniilidou (14), Greece, def. Jelena Kostanic, Croatia, 6-2, 6-2.

Jennifer Capriati (8), United States, def. Myriam Casanova, Switzerland, 6-1, 6-3.

Lisa Raymond (23), United States, def. Stephanie Foretz, France, 6-3, 6-3.

Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian, Switzerland, def. Marissa Irvin, United States, 7-5, 2-6, 8-6.

Maria Elena Camerin, Italy, def. Lilia Osterloh, United States, 6-1, 6-4.

Mary Pierce, France, def. Ansley Cargill, United States, 6-0, 6-0.

Justine Henin-Hardenne (3), Belgium, def. Julia Vakulenko, Ukraine, 7-5, 6-1.

Conchita Martinez (18), Spain, def. Milagros Sequera, Venezuela, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1.

Barbara Schett, Austria, def. Marta Marrero, Spain, 6-1, 6-2.

Cho Yoon-jeong, South Korea, def. Cristina Torrens Valero, Spain, 7-5, 1-6, 9-7.

Marlene Weingartner, Germany, def. Jane O'Donoghue, Britain, 6-4, 6-2.

Flavia Pennetta, Italy, def. Corina Morariu, United States, 6-3, 6-2.

Elena Bovina (21), Russia, def. Saori Obata, Japan, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 8-6.

Doubles

MEN

First Round

Devin Bowen, United States, and Ashley Fisher, Australia, def. Stephen Huss, Australia, and Johan Landsberg, Sweden, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

Jordan Kerr, Australia, and Sebastian Prieto, Argentina, def. Todd Perry, Australia, and Thomas Shimada, Japan, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Nathan Healey, Australia, and David Skoch, Czech Republic, lead Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, Israel, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, susp., darkness.

WOMEN

First Round

Nannie de Villiers and Natalie Grandin, South Africa, def. Kirstin Freye, Germany, and Conchita Martinez Granados, Spain, 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Maria Vento-Kabchi, Venezuela, and Angelique Widjaja, Indonesia, def. Gisela Dulko and Maria Emilia Salerni, Argentina, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-2.

Ruxandra Dragomir Ilie and Andreea Vanc, Romania, vs. Caroline Dhenin, France, and Sonya Jeyaseelan, Canada, 4-6, 6-2, 5-5, susp., darkness.

Wimbledon Show Court Schedule

Wednesday

At The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club

Wimbledon, England

Play begins on all courts at 8 a.m. EDT except where noted

Centre Court

Roger Federer (4), Switzerland, vs. Stefan Koubek, Austria

Katarina Srebotnik, Slovenia, vs. Venus Williams (4), United States

Greg Rusedski, Britain, vs. Andy Roddick (5), United States

Court 1

Todd Martin, United States, vs. Gustavo Kuerten (17), Brazil

Lindsay Davenport (5), United States, vs. Rita Grande, Italy

Nicolas Lapentti, Ecuador, vs. Sjeng Schalken (8), Netherlands

Court 2

Play begins at 7 a.m. EDT

Paradorn Srichaphan (12), Thailand, vs. Olivier Mutis, France

Sebastien Grosjean (13), France, vs. Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, comp. of susp. match

Shinobu Asagoe, Japan, vs. Daniela Hantuchova (9), Slovakia

Virginie Razzano, France, vs. Kim Clijsters (2), Belgium

Serena and Venus Williams (3), United States, vs. Corina Morariu, United States, and Rennae Stubbs, Australia




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