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Venus and Safina storm into second round

LONDON, June 24 – Defending champion Venus Williams and top seed Dinara Safina have made the Wimbledon last 64 while Andy Murray's dream of becoming the first home men's winner in 73 years also had a winning start.
Williams, the five-time champion, beat Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-2 in a sun-kissed Centre Court workout.

"It is the best place to be when you are a pro tennis player and I savour every blade of it," said Williams who now faces Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko.

The American had her serve broken twice and had to spend an hour and 18 minutes on court against the 19-year-old, world 97.

Russian top seed Safina, who has never got beyond the third round, reached the last 64 with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino and next plays Paraguay’s Rossana de los Rios.

Safina, the beaten finalist in Australia and at Roland Garros this year, shrugged off a knee injury on Court One.

"It’s a problem I’ve had for two months. I was struggling in the second set, but hopefully treatment will help," said Safina.

Meanwhile, Murray reached the last 64 with a 7-5, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4 victory over American Robert Kendrick.

Murray, the third seed and who is bidding to become Britain’s first men’s champion since Fred Perry in 1936, now faces stylish Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

"It was a tough match – he served great for two and a half, three sets and he makes it hard for you," Murray said.

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Murray was the only one of five British men to make the second round, a dire statistic illustrated by Alex Bogdanovic’s straight sets loss to Czech 20th seed Tomas Berdych.

That defeat was Bogdanovic’s eighth first round defeat in eight wildcard appearances, the worst record of any man at the All England Club.

Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros, brushed aside France’s Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.

He will next face 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, who defeated Robby Ginepri 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.

Two-time runner-up Andy Roddick was also a winner, seeing off France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3.

There was to be no repeat of last year’s dream run to the semi-finals for former world number one Marat Safin.

The Russian, who will retire at the end of the year, slumped to a dispiriting 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 defeat against American qualifier Jesse Levine.

Veteran players Kimiko Date Krumm and Jelena Dokic also saw their hopes of a fairytale melt in the Wimbledon heat.

Date Krumm, the 38-year-old Japanese who last played here in 1996, took the first set off Danish ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki but slipped to a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 defeat.

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The Japanese player reached the semi-finals in 1996; when she made her debut in 1989, Wozniacki was still a year away from being born.

Dokic made her career breakthrough here in 1999 when she defeated defending champion Martina Hingis before her professional and private life careered into a downward spiral.

The 26-year-old Australian took the first set off German qualifier Tatjana Malek before losing 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.

"I don’t feel like I’ve played as much tennis as I probably should have in the 10 years. I lost about four years, which is disappointing," said Dokic who last played here in 2004, spending most of the intervening years escaping the iron hand of controversial father Damir.

Former world number one and French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, the 13th seed, was almost a first round casualty with the Serbian having to save two match points before defeating Czech Lucie Hradecka 5-7, 6-2, 8-6.

French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Russian fifth seed, saw off Japan’s Akiko Morigami 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) while Elena Baltacha stopped the rot for Britain late in the day when the world 106 stunned Ukraine’s world 33 Alona Bonarenko 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

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