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Venus defeated in HK World Team Challenge

sports Updated: Jan 07, 2011 19:32 IST

AFP
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Venus Williams crashed in Hong Kong on Friday as her preparations for the Australian Open were marred by a second straight-sets defeat in as many days.

Chinese ace Li Na dominated the seven-time Grand Slam winner in every department for the 6-3, 7-6 victory, helping Asia-Pacific to draw level with the Americas in the silver final of Hong Kong's World Team Challenge on Friday.

"I enjoy playing here, I love the fans her supporting me. I'm looking forward to coming back next year," Li said after the match.

Williams, 30, had the balance in the baseline battle early on, despite playing well below her best, but the Chinese player was more consistent, hitting more winners and aggressively attacking the American's second serve.

Li, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open and quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, looked the more composed for much of the match, taking the ball cleanly and stepping into every shot, earning a break for 5-3 and serving out the first set.

Williams found herself unable to take points at the net whereas Li moved in quickly to kill off rallies. But the real difference was unforced errors, with Williams hitting 10 in the first set, twice as many as Li.

Li, who led China to the Asian Games women's tennis team gold in November, used all the angles available to her as she took advantage of Williams' under-par service game to hit her opponent all over court in the second set.

On her own serve Li aimed wide, hitting the return back across court and waiting to pounce on the short ball, forcing the crucial break for 4-3 and leaving Williams with a mountain to climb.

Williams, whose season last year was marred by a nagging left-knee injury, showed why she is considered one of the game's greatest players, raising her game to save a match point before breaking back brilliantly to level the set.

But saving the match proved beyond her as she lost the second set tie-breaker.

The Hong Kong exhibition, which ends Saturday, features four three-player teams representing Europe, Russia, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

The consolation silver group final, between the Americas and Asia-Pacific, consists of three singles matches and one doubles match.

Earlier US world number 61 Melanie Oudin made up for a disappointing defeat Thursday by dismissing Hong Kong's top woman Zhang Ling in straight sets.

Oudin broke Zhang twice in the first set and three times in the second for a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 victory.

"I'm glad to get Team Americas on the board and hopefully we can continue that tonight," Oudin said.

Mark Philippoussis of Australia was drawn against seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe of the United States in the "legends" rubber.

In the final clash of the evening, France's Aravane Rezai was due to take on Russian Maria Kirilenkoe in a gold group singles clash.