Venus & Serena cruise


ROME, May 4- Williams sisters Venus and Serena had few problems between them as they cruised into the third round of the WTA Rome Open at the Foro Italico here on Tuesday after straight sets victories.World number one Serena, the reigning Australian Open champion, overcame a tough first set to beat Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-6 (7/2), 6-1.

Before that, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus breezed to a 6-2, 6-2 dismantling of another Swiss, Patty Schnyder.

Serena was playing for the first time since winning in Melbourne and she certainly took her time to adjust.

In the first set she quickly found herself two breaks down at 1-4 but broke back straight away to love with a drop-shot winner on game point.

"I was a little off. I got off to a little bit of a slow start but it was good and I was able to fight it off," she said.

"I don’t think anything went wrong. I thought she played excellently, to be honest. I thought she was really playing well so I just had to pick up the level of my game."

Serena, the 2002 champion here, had looked lacklustre in the opening exchanges but she finally came to life in the 10th game as she saved three set points, screaming after one of those as she tore up to the net to reach a drop shot and crash a backhand winner down the line.

She broke Bacsinszky to level at 5-5 and then strolled through the tie-break 7-2.

That effectively heralded the end of her 20-year-old opponent’s resistance, although the Swiss did hold in the fifth game from 0-40 down.

Venus, playing in her first match in more than a month due to a knee problem, needed only an hour and a quarter to win her second round tie.

The victory ensured the world number four maintained her 100 percent record against Schnyder with her 10th win out of 10 against the Swiss.

"I think it was a pretty good performance, I felt good on court," said the 1999 winner here.

"She likes clay, it suits her type of game but I was executing pretty well.

"We’ve had some difficult matches in the past although that score was a bit easy. When I play against her I have the opportunity to control the point a little more because she doesn’t hit with so much force."

Ironically, both sets followed identical patterns, with the first three games going against the server and then Williams breaking in the seventh game as well before serving out.

There was no such comfort for reigning champion Dinara Safina, the former world number one, who was stunned by Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1 in a marathon that lasted two hours 40 minutes.

The world number three, who had not played since January due to a back injury, was out of sorts from the beginning.

She went down 4-0 in the first set and although she battled back to 4-4, lost her serve again to give up the set.

In the second she served for the set at 5-3 and had a set point but was broken before eventually levelling the match in a tie-break.

But she visibly wilted in the decider and world number 43 Dulgheru cantered away to the best result of her career.

"I was too out of touch with the racket. I had only practised a little bit so this was disappointing," said Safina.

"The third set went so fast, in one second it was 5-0.

"The only good thing out of this match is that my back was fine."

In other matches, Polish eighth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland thrashed home favourite Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-0, while there were also wins for sixth seed Elena Dementieva, seventh seed Jelena Jankovic, 11th seed Yanina Wickmayer, 14th seed Nadia Petrova and 16th seed Shahar Peer.