Tennis: Williams runs out of steam

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The Independent Online
SONYA JEYASEELAN, a Canadian qualifier, brought an abrupt end to Venus Williams' winning streak, dumping the American out of the second round of the WTA event at Amelia Island in Florida. Williams, the winner of two successive tournaments, at Oklahoma City and the Lipton Championships at Key Biscayne, suffered an unexpected 6-4, 7-6 defeat.

Williams, the third seed, who entered her first clay court tournament of the year having lost just one of her previous 14 matches, saw her power neutralised on the slower surface by Jeyaseelan, the world No 140.

In Oeiras, Portugal, the top- seeded Anke Huber suffered a similarly premature exit in the Estoril Open yesterday, when she lost to unheralded and unseeded Hungarian Rita Kuti Kis 7-6, 6-1. The 24-year-old German's performance was both petulant and errors-strewn as Huber repeatedly lost her temper and hurled her racket to the ground.

She began badly, losing her first service game and slumped to 5-1 down in the first set but briefly fought back. Huber then surrendered a 5-1 lead in the tie-break and collapsed in the second set. "Nothing went right for me today," she lamented.

In the men's singles, the Spaniard Felix Mantilla, seeded sixth, chalked up a 6-3, 6-2 second-round victory over Andrei Medvedev, of Ukraine, the winner in 1993. The No 3 seed, Marcelo Rios of Chile, and No 5 seed, Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, were due to play their first-round matches later in the day.

Another top seed, Carlos Moya, was more fortunate as he survived a testing first-round confrontation with Vladimir Voltchov before advancing at the Gold Flake Open in Madras, India, yesterday. Moya, making a push again to move past Pete Sampras to the top of the ATP rankings, beat the Belarussian 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 at Nungambakkam Stadium in a match that lasted an hour and 40 minutes.

Moya, the only Spaniard to lead the Tour list, lasted two weeks at the top of the rankings before Sampras returned to his familiar slot.

Moya only needs to reach the final of this hard-court tournament to overtake Sampras, who is not playing in a Tour event this week, but will take part in next week's Barcelona Open after being given a wild card entry.

Anna Kournikova has once again refused to play for Russia in the Fed Cup, a senior official said yesterday. She will now miss the World Group first-round tie against France in Moscow later this month.

Kournikova, who lives in the United States, has refused to play for Russia several times in the past two years, each time citing injury.

Results, Digest, page 27

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