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Nadal ensures no Rochus

sports Updated: Jan 21, 2009 12:48 IST

Serena and Venus Williams looked in ominous form as they powered through the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday, but Russia's Elena Dementieva struggled against an unheralded opponent.

In the men’s section, world number one Rafael Nadal sent out a chilling warning to his rivals when he blew Belgium's Christophe Rochus off court 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round.

Nadal was in devastating form, serving 10 aces and blasting 44 winners in a virtuoso display of power and precision as he kick-started his bid for a first Australian title.

Fernando Gonzalez beat local hero, Lleyton Hewitt while unseeded Dudi Sela upset Rainer Schuettler.

Serena overpowered China's Meng Yuan 6-3, 6-2 while sister Venus downed Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3.

However Dementieva, who crushed Serena at last week's Sydney International, was forced to fight for two hours before finally seeing off German Kristina Barrois.

Dementieva said she feared her Australian Open dream was evaporating in the Melbourne Park heat before she ground out the 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-1 win.

The in-form Russian won titles in Auckland and Sydney leading into the Open, but found herself struggling against Barrois' aggression.

Playing on the same court where she tumbled from the tournament's opening round in 2006, the 27-year-old feared history was set to repeat against the unseeded German.

There were no such problems for Serena and Venus, who could well meet in the semi-finals.

Serena is looking for her 10th major crown and her fourth in Melbourne, following wins here in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Forgoing her usual flashy outfits for a nondescript dark blue number, the American powered past Meng in just 75 minutes.

Venus, who has yet to lift the Melbourne title, was untroubled by Kerber.

Svetlana Kuznetsova battled for 100 minutes before downing Australia's Anastasia Rodionova. The eighth seeded Russian, in Serena's quarter of the draw, beat the Australian 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Zheng Jie beat France's Camille Pin, while Amelie Mauresmo eased to a 6-4, 6-3 win over Olga Govortsova.

The biggest casualty so far came when ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska lost to Kateryna Bondarenka. The Pole, a quarter-finalist here last year, lost 7-6 (9/7), 4-6, 6-1.