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Beijing Olympic Tennis Update

 

Serena and Venus Williams each had straight-set victories Tuesday to stay on track for a possible matchup in the final, and Rafael Nadal also won as he seeks his first Olympic medal.    Serena Williams raced into the third round at the Beijing Olympics, winning the final 10 games to beat Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-0. The match took only 44 minutes. Williams lost just five points in the second set, and dropped only six points on her serve in the match. Seeded fourth, Williams is playing singles in the Olympics for the first time. She won the gold medal in 2000 at Sydney with sister Venus, who won the singles that year and who joined Serena in the third round Tuesday by beating Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4. They also won in doubles Tuesday, and the toughest match was the one they played together. Venus and Serena rallied in first-round doubles to beat Iveta Benesova and Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

"I've never played singles at the Olympics, so this has been really cool for me," Serena said. "Every time I walk out there, it's like I'm playing in my match, but at the same time I have the whole U.S. team on my side. It's good. I really like that feeling."

The sisters are top-seeded in doubles and had a first-round match scheduled Tuesday night. They could meet in the final of singles Saturday.

"That would be fantastic," Venus said. "Obviously it's a long ways away, but the third round makes it closer. I'm really excited for both of us to be playing really well for the U.S."

In men's singles, No. 1-seeded Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal moved one round closer to renewing their rivalry in Sunday's final.  Federer beat Rafael Arevalo of Spain 6-2, 6-4. Rafael Nadal sustained his summer surge by defeating Australian Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-2.

"Very happy about my performance," Nadal said. "I think I play one of my best matches in the last weeks on hard court."

Top-seeded Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States won their opening match in doubles, defeating Mark Knowles and Devin Mullings of the Bahamas 6-2, 6-1. Lindsay Davenport and Liezel Huber of the United States won their first-round doubles match, beating Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska of Poland 6-2, 6-1.

Davenport said the knee injury that forced her to withdraw from singles last week didn't bother her in the match. "It has slowly been feeling better," she said. "It's hard to train for singles and always dealing with swelling. I've just really been playing careful with it. I really wanted to be here in whatever capacity it was, and it became painfully obvious to me that role was doubles. I was very happy to accept that and move forward."

In women's singles, new No. 1 Jelena Jankovic beat Alona Bondarenko 7-5, 6-1. Jankovic supplanted Ana Ivanovic atop the rankings Monday. Sixth-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia won her 12th match in a row, beating Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain 7-6 (3), 6-1.

On the men's side, No. 3 Novak Djokovic beat Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 6-2. With the temperature rising and the sun making its first appearance in the Beijing Games, the stands became a sea of fluttering Chinese fans, the kind held in your hand, for Serena Williams' morning match.

"It was early," she said. "But with the time difference, I'm still waking up, like, at 5 in the morning. So it's good. I like the early matches."

She was done before lunch. From 2-2, Williams won 40 of the final 49 points. She whacked service winners, overpowered Stosur from both wings on the baseline and came forward for an overhead slam that prompted an appreciative "Ooooh" from the crowd.  Williams punctuated her best shots with a fist pump. She made the gesture one last time after ripping a backhand return winner on match point, then shouted "Come on!" as she trotted toward the net and in to the round of 16. Williams lost just five points in the second set and dropped only six points on her serve in the match.

"My way of improving on it is to keep it up," said Williams, who is seeded fourth. "I played really clean matches in the past, the next one would be kind of streaky. I don't want to do that any more. I just want to keep playing the same consistency."

Seventh-seeded Venus Williams struggled with her second serve, hitting six double-faults. But she never faced a break point and lost only two of 24 points on her first serve.  "I felt like any time that I needed to serve well, I did, if I was down love-30, or a 30-all point," she said. "That's good for me going on in the later rounds, that I'm tough on my serve."

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