Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Serena shuts out ex-Capital Rodionova

   Serena Williams apparently feels pretty good these days.
   The 13-time Grand Slam singles champion demolished Anastasia Rodionova, a former Sacramento Capital, 6-0, 6-0 in 47 minutes Tuesday night in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   It probably didn't hurt that Williams played on the surface she grew up on, hard courts, in her home state. Serena and older sister Venus were raised in Compton in the Los Angeles area but now live in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
   Serena, who will turn 30 in September, is playing in only her third tournament since missing 11 months because of foot injuries and life-threatening blood clots. The Bank of the West Classic is her first tournament in the United States in almost two years.
   On Thursday, the 169th-ranked Williams will meet Russia's Maria Kirilenko, a quarterfinalist last year who beat sixth-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-2, 6-3. Williams defeated Kirilenko 6-3, 6-2 last month in the third round at Wimbledon before losing to Marion Bartoli of France.
   In another upset Tuesday, Japan's Ayumi Morita knocked off seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6-3, 7-5.
   Second-seeded Maria Sharapova, last year's runner-up to Victoria Azarenka, opens against Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia tonight at 7.  The top four seeds -- No. 1 Azarenka of Belarus, Sharapova, No. 3 Bartoli and No. 4 Samantha Stosur of Australia -- received first-round byes.
   If Williams and Sharapova win, they will meet Friday night in the quarterfinals in a matchup of former No. 1 players. It would also be a rematch of the 2004 Wimbledon final, in which Sharapova, then 17, stunned the two-time defending champion for the first of her three Grand Slam singles titles.

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