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Venus Williams Cruises Past Ozaki In Hong Kong Open

US player Venus Williams returns against Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko during their women's singles quarter-final match. PHOTO/AFP
US player Venus Williams returns against Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko during their women's singles quarter-final match. PHOTO/AFP

HONG KONG, China- Venus Williams raced through her opening match in the WTA Hong Kong Open on Tuesday with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Risa Ozaki.

The world number five took just 74 minutes to see off Japan’s Ozaki in hot and humid conditions in Victoria Park.

It was an ideal way for Williams to shake off any rust in her first match since losing to Sloane Stephens in the US Open semi-final a month ago.

Williams punctuated the performance with some trademark power winners and sent down seven aces to overwhelm the world number 95 in just 74 minutes.

“Four weeks goes by pretty fast and the first match is never perfect,” said Williams, who dropped her own serve twice.

“It was a hard-fought match despite the score and it was a great way to start. I hit a lot of balls and hopefully can play my way into this tournament.”

Williams, 37, but seemingly ageless, has enjoyed a magnificent season, reaching two Grand Slam finals to qualify for the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore for the first time since 2009.

But Williams said she could not afford to think about the season-ending event in Singapore, which begins in just under two weeks.

“It’s not here yet. So, this tournament is definitely first in my head,” she said.

Hong Kong debut

“There’s a lot of depth in this draw and I’m going to have to work my way through this.”

The second seed faces another Japanese opponent in Naomi Osaka in the second round. Osaka overcame Chilean qualifier Alexa Guarachi 7-5, 6-4 in their first-round encounter Tuesday.

World number 19 Elena Vesnina of Russia became the first seed to crash out when she was stunned 6-3, 6-4 by Thailand’s world number 130 Luksika Kumkhum.

Kumkhum ousted the fifth seed in just 69 minutes and will face China’s Wang Qiang in the second round.

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska swept past local wildcard Zhang Ling 6-1, 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with former US Open champion Sam Stosur.

The Polish world number 18 was below her best, managing to land just 56 percent of first serves, but a double break in each set was enough for her to win in just 69 minutes on her Hong Kong debut.

“I’ve known Sam for many years, although we didn’t play for a while. I think it’s going to be a really good match,” Radwanska told reporters.

Australian seventh seed Daria Gavrilova set up a match against Shelby Rogers of the US in the second round after coming through in straight sets against qualifier Miyu Kato of Japan 6-1, 7-6 (7/4).

Sixth seed Anastasia Pavyluchenkova of Russia also progressed safely with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Timea Babos of Hungary and will face American qualifier Jacqueline Cako.

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