Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Win brings Venus same old query

MELBOURNE, Australia — It was inevitable after such an energetic performance in her second-round win over Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open that Venus Williams would get asked about transcending the generations in tennis.

The 36-year-old, seven-time major winner played the first of her record 73 Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open in 1997. Back then, she got to play against the likes of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Against the 26-year-old Voegele at the Australian Open today, Williams mixed up her game, clearly not intent on relying only on the kind of power game that helped her make a mark on the sport. She won 6-3, 6-2, hitting 24 winners and getting five service breaks.

"I have to talk about this every interview," Williams said in reply to what has become a regular postmatch question to the oldest player in the women's draw here. "I've played some of the greats. It's an honor and privilege to start that young," she added, laughing, "and play this old."

She is playing her 17th Australian Open but has never won the title. Her best run was to the final in 2003, when she lost to her sister Serena.

After Venus' match, she and Serena pulled out of their scheduled first-round doubles match because of a right elbow injury to Venus.

Kei Nishikori advanced to the third round in a far more straightforward manner than his five-set opener in the first round. The fifth seed defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in just over two hours to reach the third round for the seventh consecutive year.

"(I) was definitely playing much better than first round," Nishikori said. "There were many ups and downs, still too many break points for me. Great to finish in three sets."

Late Tuesday, six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic held off Fernando Verdasco in a 71-minute, momentum-swinging second set before winning 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

Rafael Nadal, returning from a couple of months on the sideline following the U.S. Open with an injured left wrist, has already improved on 2016.

"I'm happy to do an interview with you. Last year, I didn't have the chance!" Nadal said in his on-court interview after a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Florian Mayer. Nadal lost to Verdasco in the first round last year.

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