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WTA Tokyo: Venus and Stephens through to second round

Steven Webb in News 23 Sep 2013
Venus Williams hit 20 winners past Mona Barthel.

A busy start to the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo saw two Americans at opposite ends of the career spectrum win their opening matches comfortably.

Venus Williams may be 33 years old and suffering from various ailments and injuries, but she can still belt a tennis ball. On Sunday, she faced a woman a decade younger and ranked 29 places higher, Mona Barthel. 

Many thought that the young German could get the better of an inconsistent Venus, especially when she took a 2-0 lead in the opening set. But the seven-time Grand Slam champion broke straight back and played with controlled aggression for the remainder of the match. Blasting 20 winners and winning 73% of her first service points, Venus completed a 6-3, 6-1 victory in just over one hour.

Her reward? A date with Tokyo’s top seed and world number two Victoria Azarenka. Venus has won both of her previous matches with the Belarusian, but they haven’t played since 2010, before Azarenka became a Grand Slam champion with one of the most complete games on the women’s tour. Their second round clash will be the highlight of Tuesday’s order of play.

Joining Venus in round two is compatriot Sloane Stephens. The 20-year-old is enjoying the best season of her young career in 2013 - she made at least the last 16 stage of all four Grand Slams, and is within touching distance of a top ten ranking. In her first match in Tokyo, Stephens cruised past 56th-ranked Stefanie Voegele, breaking the Swiss four times to win 6-3, 6-2.

Stephens will play fellow youngster Eugenie Bouchard in the second round, who beat yet another up-and-comer, Monica Puig, in straight sets. A strong result in Tokyo this week would boost Stephens’ chances of making the end-of-year WTA Championships in Istanbul.

Also victorious on Sunday were two former US Open champions, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sam Stosur. Kuznetsova beat Argentine qualifier Paula Ormaechea 6-1, 6-2 and will next play third seed Sara Errani, while Stosur edged an uneven battle with Alize Cornet in three sets to book a date with 42-year-old home favourite Kimiko Date-Krumm. 

However, there was disappointment for Britain’s top player, Laura Robson. Despite going into her match with Ayumi Morita with a 2-1 lead in the head-to-head, the Londoner faded after dropping the opening set on a tie-break. Morita converted the only break point opportunity in the second set, and held firm as an impatient Robson sprayed balls long and wide. 

On Monday, seventh seed Petra Kvitova will take on 16-year-old Belinda Bencic, winner of the French Open and Wimbledon junior titles this year. In another intriguing encounter, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will take on 13th seed Simona Halep. Both women are in excellent form: Pavlyuchenkova pushed Agnieszka Radwanska to the limit in the Seoul final on Sunday, and Halep is at a career high ranking after winning four titles during the summer.

Here are the results of the completed first round matches at the Toray Pan Pacific Open…

Venus Williams (U.S.) beat Mona Barthel (Germany) 6-3 6-1                                 

9-Sloane Stephens (U.S.) beat Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) 6-3 6-2                      

Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) beat Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) 6-0 6-4                            

Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat Paula Ormaechea (Argentina) 6-1 6-2                     

11-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) beat Annika Beck (Germany) 6-1 6-1 

12-Samantha Stosur (Australia) beat Alize Cornet (France) 2-6 6-4 6-1                     

Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) beat Anastasia Rodionova (Russia) 6-2 4-1 (Rodionova retired) 

Ayumi Morita (Japan) beat Laura Robson (Britain) 7-6(4) 6-3                                 

14-Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) 7-6(4) 7-5 

15-Sorana Cirstea (Romania) beat Julia Goerges (Germany) 6-4 6-4

16-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) beat Urszula Radwanska (Poland) 6-3 6-3                  

Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) beat Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 6-4 6-7(6) 7-6(2)           

Maria Teresa Torro (Spain) beat Klara Zakopalova (Czech Republic) 7-6(6) 1-6 6-3          

Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) beat Kurumi Nara (Japan) 2-6 7-5 6-3                            

Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) beat Daria Gavrilova (Russia) 6-2 5-7 7-5                    

Peng Shuai (China) beat Risa Ozaki (Japan) 6-2 6-1                                          

Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) beat Francesca Schiavone (Italy) 2-6 6-4 6-2                    

Misaki Doi (Japan) beat Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) 6-7(3) 6-0 7-5                             

Flavia Pennetta (Italy) beat Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) 6-3 6-3                          

Casey Dellacqua (Australia) beat Kristina Mladenovic (France) 7-5 6-1                      

Magdelena Rybarikova (Poland) beat Su-Wei-Hsieh (Taipei) 6-2 7-5 6-0

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WTA Tokyo: Venus and Stephens through to second round

Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens were impressive in their opening matches at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

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