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Serena Williams sounds an early warning

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UPSET WIN: Dominika Cibulkova ousted Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova from the Sydney International.
UPSET WIN: Dominika Cibulkova ousted Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova from the Sydney International.

SYDNEY: Serena Williams started her 2010 season in the same devastating fashion in which she ended 2009, thrashing Spain’s Marie Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1, 6-2 in the second round of the Sydney International on Tuesday.

Playing her first match since beating older sister Venus in the final of last year’s Tour Championship, Williams showed why she remains the woman to beat at this month’s Australian Open with a powerful display.

Feeling great

“I felt all right. Obviously I don’t feel my best, but that’s what the game is all about, taking it one match at a time and just doing the best that you can,” she told reporters.

“My goal is to do well, obviously, but I can’t put too much pressure on myself. If I play the best I can play, I’ve always said I’m very difficult to beat.”

Russia’s Dinara Safina opened her new season toppling Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals.

“It was a little bit of slow start, but it was a winning start,” Safina said.

Kuznetsova exits

Russia’s defending champion Elena Dementieva beat Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchokova 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. The only high-profile casualty was Russia’s Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who was beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.

In men’s first-round matches, sixth-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia advanced over Frenchman Florent Serra 7-6(5), 6-4, No. 8 Benjamin Becker had a 6-3, 6-3 win over Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.

Kohlschreiber advances

At the Auckland Open, former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber made light work of his replacement first round opponent Inigo Cervantes-Huegun on Tuesday. The German beat Cervantes-Huegun 6-2 6-3 after the Spaniard was added to the field at the last minute when Argentine David Nalbandian pulled out injured.

Sebastien Grosjean, who has slumped in 675th in the world rankings after being plagued by shoulder problems, also benefitted from Nalbandian’s withdrawal.

The Frenchman accepted an offer of a wildcard and the former world No. 4 responded by beating Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

The results:

At Hobart (WTA Hobart International): Second round: Gisela Dulko bt Tamira Paszek 6-1, 0-6, 7-6(5); Alona Bondarenko by Alize Cornet 6-4, 3-6, 6-2; Zheng Jie bt Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-1; Anabel Medina Garrigues bt Alla Kudryavtseva 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

At Sydney (WTA/ATP Sydney International): Women: Second round: Aravane Rezai bt Agnes Szavay 6-3, 7-6(5); Dinara Safina bt Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-4; Vera Dushevina bt Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-4; Serena Williams bt Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1, 6-2; Dominika Cibulkova bt Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-2; Victoria Azarenka bt Kimiko Date Krumm 6-1, 5-7, 7-5; Elena Dementieva bt Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 4-6, 6-2; Flavia Pennetta bt Li Na 6-2, 7-6(4).

Men: First round: Benjamin Becker bt Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 6-3; Viktor Troicki bt Florent Serra 7-6(5), 6-4; Evgeny Korolev bt Sam Querrey 6-2, 5-7, 6-4; Julien Benneteau bt Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-1; Mardy Fish bt Carsten Ball 6-4, 7-6(4); Peter Luczak bt Jose Acasuso 7-6(1), 6-4.

At Auckland (ATP Heineken Open): First round: Juan Monaco bt Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-0; Albert Montanes bt James Lemke 6-1, 7-5; John Isner bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-2; Simon Greul bt Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-3; Michael Lammer bt Daniel Evans 1-6, 6-2, 6-4; Philipp Kohlschreiber bt Inigo Cervantes-Huegun 6-2, 6-3; Marc Gicquel bt Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-2; Sebastien Grosjean bt Florian Mayer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; Arnaud Clement bt Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-4. — Agencies

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