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Serena coasts to Australian Open victory

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 19 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams lost only seven points in the second set and cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 victory Wednesday over Dally Randriantefy in the second round of the Australian Open.

The seventh-seeded Williams didn't drop a point on her serve in the second set until the final game when she made two unforced errors. She set up match point with a curling forehand winner and ended the match in 48 minutes with her sixth ace.

Williams had 38 winners and only 18 unforced errors. The 2003 Australian Open champion yelled "No!" at herself for blowing two break chances in the fifth game, then responded with a classic backhand winner down the line.

Williams is trying to recapture the form that made her the 2003 Australian Open champion. That victory completed her personal Grand Slam of four consecutive majors. She missed last year's tournament because of a knee injury.

Randriantefy, ranked 67th, couldn't do much of anything against Williams in the final six games. She failed to convert either of her two break chances in the first set and didn't get close to one in the second.

Williams will play 18 year-old Sania Mirza, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Petra Mandula, in the next round. Mirza, playing in her first major, is the first Indian woman to make the third round of a Grand Slam tournament.

Second-ranked Amelie Mauresmo overcame poor serving in the first set and rallied to beat Dinara Safina 2-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Mauresmo, ranked No. 1 last September before slipping behind Lindsay Davenport, was broken in her first two service games. Safina, the younger sister of Marat Safin, raced to a 4-0 lead en route to clinching the first set.

Mauresmo had an early break in the second set but lost her serve again to lead only 2-1. That was her last slip, as she took the final 10 games from the 18-year-old Safina.

Mauresmo, the silver medalist at the Athens Olympics, had to withdraw from last year's Australian Open during the quarterfinals because of a back muscle injury.

"I had a pretty slow start and my legs weren't working the way I wanted them to," she said. "My energy wasn't really there in the beginning. But I stayed focussed, I hung in there.

"It's sometimes good to win when you don't play your best tennis."

No. 9 seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia was the highest-ranked woman to lose as she was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by countrywoman Vera Douchevina. Zvonareva struggled with her serve, dropping five games and producing 11 double-faults.

American Amy Frazier, seeded 21st, defeated Denisa Chladkova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

In other women's matches, Evgenia Linetskaya was a 6-0, 6-2 winner over Martina Sucha, and Li Na beat 28th-seeded Shinobu Asagoe 6-3, 6-4.

On the men's side, French Open champion Gaston Gaudio overcame Olympic silver medalist Mardy Fish 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (4), and Belgium's Olivier Rochus had a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 win over Gael Monfils, an 18-year-old Frenchman who won three of the four junior majors last season.

On Tuesday, second-ranked Andy Roddick lost only five points on serve in the first set before beating Georgian Irakli Labadze 7-5, 6-2, 6-1. No. 3 Lleyton Hewitt was rarely troubled in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 win over Arnaud Clement.

Davenport, the top-seeded woman, was on the verge of quitting last season but now believes she can win her fourth Grand Slam title.

If her 6-1, 6-0 win on Tuesday over 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez was any indication, she's recovered from a nagging knee problem and a bout of bronchitis that limited her preparation.

Eighth-seeded Venus Williams, who won the last of her four majors at the U.S. Open in 2001, moved into the second round with a 6-1, 7-5 victory against Eleni Daniilidou.

French Open champion Anastasia Myskina beat Kveta Peschke 6-1, 6-4.

Two of Russia's other major holders were to play later Wednesday. Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova was to face Lindsay Lee-Waters, and U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was scheduled to meet Marion Bartoli of France.

Kuznetsova was forced to deal with a doping charge on Tuesday. She joined WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott in a sharp rebuke of Belgian regional sports minister Claude Eerdekens, who said the Russian player tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine during a charity event last month.

While the common ingredient in cold medicine is on the banned list during competition, it's not off-limits during the offseason.

On the men's side, Andre Agassi was to face Rainer Schuettler, while top-ranked Roger Federer was scheduled to take on Takao Suzuki, and No. 4 Safin was set to meet Bohdan Ulihrach.

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