Serena Williams breezes into second round

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The Independent Online

Defending champion Serena Williams needed only 38 minutes to beat Ruxandra Dragomir, 6-0, 6-1 and advance to the second round of the estyle.com Classic in Manhattan Beach, California.

Defending champion Serena Williams needed only 38 minutes to beat Ruxandra Dragomir, 6-0, 6-1 and advance to the second round of the estyle.com Classic in Manhattan Beach, California.

Williams started the match on Tuesday night with a 102 mph (164 kph) service winner which set the tone of the match as Dragomir was powerless to return the numerous blasts from Williams. The first set lasted just 18 minutes.

The fifth-seeded Williams lost only seven points on her serve at the Manhattan Country Club.

Dragomir of Romania was only able to hold her own serve once and that was in the fourth game of the second set.

Williams, last year's U.S. Open champion, took five weeks off after losing to her sister Venus in the semifinals at Wimbledon.

"I'm back to playing the way I want," Williams said. "I played a solid game today, didn't make too many errors. I think I could have served better."

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario also advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Barbara Schett.

Sanchez-Vicario, the No. 7 seed, rallied in the first set from a 3-1 deficit - winning the final three games. She dominated the second set with precise shot-making, losing only the third game.

Sixth seed Nathalie Tauziat lost to qualifier Daja Bedanova in straight sets.

Bedanova, ranked 113th, upset the No. 6 seed 6-3, 6-4. The 17-year-old from the Czech Republic is the youngest qualifier in the field. Bedanova needed just over an hour to defeat the 32-year-old Tauziat, the field's oldest player.

"I played bad, she played better," Tauziat said. "I just had a bad attitude on the court, didn't feel like playing. That's enough to lose."

In other first-round action Tuesday, No. 8 seed Sandrine Testud beat Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 6-4; Dominique Van Roost eliminated Tatiana Panova 6-1, 6-2; Tamarine Tanasugarn defeated Magui Serna 6-7 (8-6), 6-3, 7-5; and Amy Frazier beat Marlene Weingartner 7-6 (8-6), 6-2.

Monica Seles, the third seed, was forced to withdraw because of a left forearm strain sustained last week at the Acura Classic. She struggled most of the week with blisters on her left hand, her main racket hand.

Seles was forced to adjust her grip due to the blisters, causing the strain. She will be replaced by lucky loser Kristina Brandi.

"I am very disappointed. It is too hard to predict when I will be able to play again," Seles said. "I will go home to start on my rehab, and look forward to returning to the tour as soon as possible."

Sanchez-Vicario is playing her first tournament since reaching the round-of-16 at Wimbledon. She married Spanish journalist Joan Vehils on July 21.

Results from the $535,000 estyle.com Classic Sanex WTA Tour hard-court tournament:

Singles - First Round

Daja Bedanova (Cze) def. (6) Nathalie Tauziat (Fr) 6-3, 6-4. (7) Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (Sp) def. Barbara Schett (Aut) 6-4, 6-1. (8) Sandrine Testud (Fr) def. Elena Likhovtseva (Rus) 6-2, 6-4. Dominique Van Roost (Bel) def. Tatiana Panova (Rus) 6-1, 6-2. Tamarine Tanasugarn (Thai) def. Magui Serna (Sp) 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-5. Amy Frazier (US) def. Marlene Weingartner (Ger) 7-6 (6), 6-2. (5) Serena Williams (US) def. Ruxandra Dragomir (Rom) 6-0, 6-1. Lisa Raymond (US) def. Mirjana Lucic (Cro) 6-3, 6-3.

Doubles - First Round

Tina Krizan (Sloven) and Irina Selyutina (Kaz) def. (2) Julie Halard-Decugis (Fr) and Ai Sugiyama (Japan) 6-3, 7-5.

Kimberly Po (US) and Anne-Gaelle Sidot (Fr) def. Surina de Beer (SA) and Nana Miyagi (Japan) 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4.

Nicole Arendt (US) and Manon Bollegraf (Neth) def. Nathalie Dechy (Fr) and Nadejda Petrova (Rus) 7-6 (1), 6-4.

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