THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MASON, Ohio — Wild card Venus Williams survived a three-set match in the opening round of the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, another encouraging win coming off her Olympic gold medal in doubles with sister Serena.
Things didn’t go well at all for fellow American Andy Roddick, who lost in two sets to a player who was a last-minute injury replacement.
Venus Williams beat 12th-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 in a match that lasted 2 hours, 23 minutes. She improved to 4-0 against Kirilenko, who couldn’t handle a powerful serve that produced 11 aces.
It’s been a good few weeks for Williams, who had to drop out of the U.S. Open last year because of an immune system disease that causes fatigue and stiffness in her joints. She said she’s learning how to manage the symptoms.
"I’m doing a lot better than this time last year," she said. "So much better than a couple months ago as well. I also am learning to deal with everything a lot better. If I wake up and I don’t feel great, then I would panic and lose my match 2-1. Now I realize that I just kind of hang in there if I’m not having the best day and still try to get the win."
Williams thinks the tournament in suburban Cincinnati can leave her in good position heading into the U.S. Open, which she plans to play this time around.
"Of course I’m excited about the Open," she said. "I know I can play great tennis. I need some more matches, obviously, and I need to execute out there on the court, and I need to feel halfway decent.
"So there are a lot of things that have to fall in place for me, maybe more than other players. But I’m up for the challenge."
Kirilenko had 11 double-faults, including at match point.
"She’s serving well," Kirilenko said. "When she’s serving well, you have to concentrate, and I think my concentration was down in the third set."
Roddick needed treatment during the second set of his 7-6 (4), 6-3 loss to France’s Jeremy Chardy, who got into the main draw when ninth-seeded John Isner withdrew because of a sore back. Roddick had won all three of his career matches against Chardy.
Roddick won the Atlanta Open in July despite a sore right shoulder. He lost to Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the Olympic tournament, a match that lasted only 54 minutes.
After the third game of the second set Tuesday, he had a trainer come over to help him stretch his back and shoulders. He managed only one break point during the 1-hour, 33-minute match. Roddick left the court quickly with his head down.
Fifteenth-seeded Nadia Petrova retired with an injury after falling behind fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (8), 3-1 in their first-round match.
In the tournament’s first second-round match, fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany needed three sets to eliminate Timea Babos of Hungary 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
In men’s first-round action, Japan’s Kei Nishikori easily defeated Marcel Granollers of Spain, 6-1, 6-2. Gilles Simon of France withdrew with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Alejandro Falla of Colombia.