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Venus and Nadal thru
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 06 - 2008

A pesky bee almost threw Venus Williams off course at Wimbledon on Tuesday but the defending champion regained her composure to swat aside Naomi Cavaday and reach the second round.
Opening Center Court proceedings on the traditional ‘Ladies Day', the American ran into some early trouble before she staked her claim for a fifth title at the All England Club with a 7-6, 6-1 win over British wildcard Cavaday.
Her possible semifinal opponent, 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, stepped on court dressed to impress in a stylish white tuxedo complete with shorts. The third seed's performance on court was an understated yet assured 6-1, 6-4 win over France's Stephanie Foretz.
The same could not be said of her Russian compatriot Nikolay Davydenko. The men's fourth seed has never felt at home on grass and suffered his fifth first-round defeat in seven appearances when he went down 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to Germany's Benjamin Becker.
“He played good and I played really bad,” summed up a dejected Davydenko.
French Open champion Rafael Nadal showed no signs of slowing down, recording his 18th successive win to dispatch German qualifier Andreas Beck 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.
Andy Murray, given the responsibility of ending Britain's 72-year wait for a men's champion now that Tim Henman has retired, began with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 defeat of wily Frenchman Fabrice Santoro.
Before opening the defense of her crown, Williams had admitted she knew little about her 197th-ranked opponent.
If Williams had done her homework, she would have known that Cavaday comes to life on the big stage since she almost dumped out former champion Martina Hingis in the first round last June.
Yet on Tuesday, it was hovering bumble bee that caused Williams more alarm.
Serving at 40-0 up on her opening service game, the seventh seed was distracted by the insect buzzing around her ankles and Cavaday raced through the next five points to break. She led 3-1 before Williams eventually restored normal service.
“I was about to serve. I felt something on my leg. I looked down. It was a bee, a big old bumblebee,” said Williams, who reeled off the last six games to book her place in round two. “I didn't want it to sting me ... then I ended up losing that service game, so I guess the bumble bee got me off to a bad start,” she added.
Lindsay Davenport, Andy Roddick and James Blake completed a good day for the American seeds. Twenty-fifth seed Davenport, returning to the grasscourt major following a two-year absence, pulled off a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over Renata Voracova. Roddick, seeded sixth, relied on his grasscourt pedigree to overcome Eduardo Schwank 7-5, 6-4, 7-6.
Number seven Blake beat Christophe Rochus 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.
Jelena Jankovic, who desperately wants to join fellow Serbs Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic in the grand slam winner's circle, opened her account with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ukraine's Olga Savchuk.
After Roger Federer had arrived on a warm and sunny Monday in a heavy cardigan and Serena Williams in a raincoat, Sharapova showed that she had at least dressed for the occasion.
“I was very inspired by menswear this year and every time at Wimbledon I want to do something classy and elegant,” Sharapova said after completing a regulation victory. “This year I said why don't we do shorts and I have never worn shorts before at a Grand Slam. There is a place to do it and that's Wimbledon.”
Nadal chose to demonstrate his flair with his racket. The four-time French Open champion arrived at Wimbledon having claimed his first grasscourt title at Queen's Club nine days ago and has been tipped by Swedish great Bjorn Borg to end Federer's five-year reign this year.
Nadal unleashed 17 aces to end left-hander Beck's Grand Slam debut with the minimum of fuss. “I'm happy about how I served today,” said the 2006 and 2007 runner-up, who fell one ace short of matching his personal record at Wimbledon. Life could get more difficult for Nadal in the second round as rising Latvian Ernests Gulbis awaits. – Reuters __


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