- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BEIJING | Even by the lofty standards of the Williams sisters, three victories at the Olympics is a good day’s work.

They won in singles and doubles Tuesday, and the toughest match was the one they played together. Venus and Serena rallied in first-round doubles to beat Iveta Benesova and Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Earlier, the Williamses won second-round singles matches. Serena beat Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-0, and Venus swept Benesova 6-1, 6-4.

The sisters could meet in Saturday’s singles final.

“That would be fantastic,” Venus said. “Obviously, it’s a long ways away, but the third round makes it closer. I’m really excited for both of us to be playing really well for the U.S.”

In men’s singles, top-seeded Roger Federer earned an Olympic rematch Wednesday against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Federer wept after losing to Berdych in the second round at the Athens Games four years ago.

“He has got a great game,” Federer said. “Obviously I’m aware of the danger.”

This time they will meet in the third round. Federer advanced by beating Rafael Arevalo of El Salvador 6-2, 6-4. Berdych, seeded 17th, defeated Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-3, 7-6 (4).

No. 2 Rafael Nadal sustained his summer surge by defeating Australian Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-2.

“Very happy about my performance,” Nadal said. “I think I play one of my best matches in the last weeks on hard court.”

This year’s French Open and Wimbledon champion, Nadal is assured of climbing to No. 1 in the rankings next week, ending Federer’s 4 1/2-year reign.

Nadal and Federer each seek their first Olympic medal, while the Williamses are trying to add to the family collection. They won the gold in doubles at Sydney in 2000, and Venus won the singles that year.

“I’ve never played singles at the Olympics, so this has been really cool for me,” Serena said. “Every time I walk out there, it’s like I’m playing in my match, but at the same time I have the whole U.S. team on my side. It’s good. I really like that feeling.”

First-time Olympian James Blake, the lone remaining U.S. player in men’s singles, beat Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3 in a late-night match. That gave the Americans a 6-0 record for the day.

“Hopefully it continues Wednesday and the next day,” Blake said. “And hopefully some of us will hear the national anthem at the end of the week.”

Americans Lindsay Davenport and Liezel Huber won their first-round doubles match, beating Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska of Poland 6-2, 6-1. Davenport said a knee injury that forced her to withdraw from singles last week didn’t bother her in the match.

“It has slowly been feeling better,” she said. “It’s hard to train for singles and always dealing with swelling. I’ve just really been playing careful with it. I really wanted to be here in whatever capacity it was, and it became painfully obvious to me that role was doubles. I was very happy to accept that and move forward.”

Top-seeded Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States won their opening match in doubles, defeating Mark Knowles and Devin Mullings of the Bahamas 6-2, 6-1.

In women’s singles, new No. 1 Jelena Jankovic beat Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko 7-5, 6-1. Jankovic supplanted Ana Ivanovic atop the rankings Monday.

On the men’s side, No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat Rainer Schuettler of Germany 6-4, 6-2.

With the temperature rising and the sun making its first appearance at the Beijing Games, the stands became a sea of fluttering Chinese fans - the hand-held kind - for Serena Williams‘ morning match on cozy Court 1.

“It was early,” she said. “But with the time difference, I’m still waking up, like, at 5 in the morning. So it’s good. I like the early matches.”

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