Serena, Roddick advance at Wimbledon
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WIMBLEDON, England (AP) ” After another slow start, Serena Williams got her grass-court game back on track.
The two-time champion rallied from 4-2 down in the first set and beat Australia’s Alicia Molik 7-6 (4), 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the third round of Wimbledon.
Also getting past the second round was third-seeded Andy Roddick, who defeated 114th-ranked Danai Udomchoke of Thailand 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Roddick, serving at speeds up to 140 mph, had 15 aces and 40 winners and broke three times. Udomchoke converted only one of nine break points.
Williams, who also struggled in the first set of her opening-round win Monday over Lourdes Dominguez Lino, fell behind again against Molik in windy conditions on Court 1. But she finally got her power game going and finished with 10 aces and 35 winners.
The match ended in bizarre circumstances on Williams’ third match point in the final game. A line judge called Molik’s shot wide, but the two continued playing until Williams hit a winning forehand volley.
The players approached the net to congratulate each other, but Molik was allowed to challenge the line judge’s call. The new “Hawk-Eye” replay system showed the ball was out. The two smiled, and Williams saluted the crowd.
Williams showed lots of emotion during the match as her sister, Venus, and parents watched from the stands.
The turning point came in the tiebreaker with Molik leading 4-2. The Australian made groundstroke errors on the next four points and Williams pounded a 121 mph ace down the middle to close out the set ” punctuated by a fist pump and scream of “Come on!”
In other women’s play, French Open runner-up and No. 6-seeded Ana Ivanovic beat Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-0, 7-6 (3) in a first-round match. Also reaching the second round were No. 12 Elena Dementieva, No. 14 Nicole Vaidisova and No. 17 Tatiana Golovin.
Top-seeded Justine Henin was playing a second-round match against Vera Dushevina of Russia, with No. 3 Jelena Jankovic against Jarmila Gajdosova of Slovakia, and 1997 champion Martina Hingis against Aiko Nakamura of Japan.
In men’s play, four-time defending champion Roger Federer was playing 18-year-old Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina as he seeks his 50th straight win on grass.
As a three-time Wimbledon champion, Venus Williams knows that getting through the early matches can sometimes be the tricky part.
Just making it past the first round this time almost proved too much.
Venus Williams was down a set and a break, then down 3-1 in the final set, before pulling out a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 win Tuesday over Alla Kudryavtseva, a 19-year-old Russian playing her first Wimbledon match.
“I think I’ve made my mistakes in the first round, and I think that it helps definitely to work out some of those cobwebs,” Williams said. “I think being able to hit a lot of balls in some pressure situations will definitely help me in the coming rounds.”
Williams, who has slipped to No. 31 in the rankings due to inactivity, injuries and a drop in form, came to Wimbledon without any grass-court match preparation. It showed in the first set as she struggled to keep the ball in the court.
Down 2-0 and 0-30 on her serve in the second set, Williams looked in danger of going out in the opening round for the first time since her Wimbledon debut in 1997. But she righted herself to win six of seven games for the set.
Williams then had to fight back again from a break down in the third. And when she served at 5-4 down, 30-30, she was two points from defeat. The Russian missed a backhand, and Williams smacked a 119 mph service winner to hold. Williams then broke in the next game and served out the match at love.
“I enjoy the battle,” she said. “I enjoy winning matches like this. This is what I do. If you want to be successful at anything, it doesn’t come easy.”
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