- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From combined dispatches

BEIJING | Rafael Nadal took the court at 10:30 a.m. here and hit his final shot more than 11 hours later. Roger Federer’s first day of Olympic tennis was slightly shorter but just as successful.

The two rivals, both bidding to become Olympic medalists for the first time, were winners in singles and doubles in the opening round Monday.

Playing the first match on center court, Nadal overcame numerous missed chances by sweeping the final four games to beat Potito Starace of Italy 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

The top-seeded Federer made his entrance less than an hour later. He beat Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-2, then received congratulations from one of the spectators, U.S. basketball star LeBron James.

No. 7 seed Venus Williams, playing her first match since winning Wimbledon for the fifth time, beat Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 6-2. Williams, who swept the gold medals in singles and doubles in 2000, showed no sign of the knee injury that sidelined her in recent weeks.

“I feel really good about the match - not a lot of unforced errors, no service breaks,” Williams said. “I did the right things to come out on top.”

Her sister Serena, seeded fourth, won all four games when her match resumed after an overnight rain interruption, and she beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 6-3, 6-1.

Like Nadal, Serena Williams was playing her first singles match at the Olympics. She won a gold medal in doubles in 2000 with sister Venus.

“It’s a great thing going out there playing for your country,” Serena said.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

BEIJING | The U.S. women’s basketball team quickly dashed any hopes China had of an upset, avenging a loss in April with the second American drubbing of the Chinese in as many nights.

Tina Thompson scored 13 of her 27 points during a 23-0 run in the first quarter as the United States routed China 108-63, taking the boisterous crowd out of the game early.

The American men beat China 101-70 on Sunday night.

“We were really locked in and focused,” U.S. co-captain Katie Smith said. “We didn’t want to let them stick around. We wanted to let the crowd know that we were ready to play. You don’t want to play around with teams. If you have a chance to make a statement and put them away early you do that.”

Thompson fell short of Lisa Leslie’s Olympic record of 35 points set against Japan in 1996.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

BEIJING | Kerri Walsh has her gold ring back on her hand and another golden prize in her sights.

The American covered her wedding ring with a bandage Tuesday, when she and Misty May-Treanor beat a pair of three-time Olympians from Cuba in straight sets to all but assure themselves of a spot in the medal round.

Walsh, who is married to fellow pro Casey Jennings, lost the ring Sunday in the first game of the round-robin. It was dug up by a volunteer after venue officials combed the sand with metal detectors and security wands.

Walsh and May-Treanor, the gold medalists in Athens, beat Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea 21-15, 21-16 for their 103rd consecutive victory. The Cubans, ninth-place finishers in both Athens and Sydney, fell to 1-1.

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