Federer, Williams sisters in golden form


LONDON, England, July 30 – Roger Federer underlined his desire to win Olympic singles gold with a demolition of Julien Benneteau Monday, while Serena and Venus Williams followed his example with equally dominant displays.

Federer and the Williams sisters have a remarkable 17 Wimbledon singles titles and 38 grand slam crowns between them in their illustrious careers, and the trio showed their class as they marched into the last 16.

World number one Federer needed three sets to win his first match against Alejandro Falla, but the newly re-crowned Wimbledon champion took the express route Monday with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over France’s Benneteau in just 58 minutes.

Serena, who like Federer is aiming to follow her latest Wimbledon success with a first singles gold medal, swept through to the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Urszula Radwanska.

And Venus, a singles gold medallist at the Sydney Games in 2000, demolished Italian ninth seed Sara Errani 6-3, 6-1 in a first round match rescheduled due to Sunday’s heavy rain.

Federer admitted he had struggled with the extra pressure of representing Switzerland at the Games after Saturday’s opening match against Falla.

But he was far more convincing display against Benneteau to book a last 16 tie against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.

“The conditions were different. Obviously the roof was open, there was a bit of a swirly wind and I think he might have struggled a little bit with his serve in these conditions,” Federer said.

“I think he also injured himself at the very end so that was unfortunate, but I was able to put together a solid performance today.”

Serena, 30, defeated Radwanska’s older sister Agnieszka in three sets to win her fifth Wimbledon title this month and the American fourth seed had no intention of seeing her campaign derailed by a family vendetta on Court One.

Serena finished with eight aces and 26 winners in her one hour and 13 minute victory and she will now play Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, whom she beat in the 2010 Wimbledon final, in the last 16.

“It was tough conditions, a little windy. I’m glad I was able to pull through,” Serena said.

Venus suffered her worst defeat at the All England Club since 1997 when she crashed out against Elena Vesnina in straight sets in the first round last month.

That was the first time Venus had lost in the opening round of a grand slam since the 2006 Australian Open and provided further evidence of the American’s struggles with Sjogren’s syndrome, an auto-immune disease.

But the three-time Olympic gold medallist has always been a fighter and she is determined to emulate her singles success at the 2000 Sydney Games.

The 32-year-old made a mockery of the 60 places separating her from Errani in the WTA rankings as she crushed the world number nine in just 63 minutes to earn a clash with Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniack for a place in the last 16.

“Oh my gosh it was really great,” Venus said. “There’s definitely nerves, but grass is my surface and I felt great out there.

“I fought so much to be here but I’m not only happy with that. I want to do something and play well for my country.”

Elsewhere on Monday, three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick defeated Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 7-5, 6-4 to set up a second round clash with Serbian second seed Novak Djokovic.

Women’s world number one Victoria Azarenka also advanced to the last 32 with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.