Venus Williams knows all about Olympic success. Andy Roddick got his first taste of it Sunday. Bothered more by the wind and her wrist wrap than her
opponent, defending gold medalist Williams overpowered Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-1, 6-2 in the opening match of the Athens Games' tennis
Roddick made his Olympic debut with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Flavio Saretta of Brazil, swatting 12 aces and 16 service winners.
"There's definitely something different'' about playing at a Summer Games, Roddick said. "I was a little more nervous today than I would be normally
for a first-round match.''
Only about 500 spectators were on hand for the start of Williams' first outing in three weeks. She quit with a right wrist injury during a semifinal
at Carson, Calif., then pulled out of the next WTA tournament.
"I had so much fun at the last Olympics and so much success, and then to be here is amazing,'' said the sixth-seeded Williams, who also won the
doubles title in Sydney. "I'm playing well, I'm playing smart, and I'm also really happy because I've been doing everything my coaches asked me to in
the last week.''
In other first-round action, No. 11 Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina was upset by Max Mirnyi of Belarus 3-6, 7-6 (0), 6-4, while seeded winners
included No. 5 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, No. 14 Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, and No. 16 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, Roddick's potential third-round
Also, No. 8 Ai Sugiyama of Japan outlasted Zheng Jie of China 4-6, 6-3, 8-6 in a 2½-hour match suspended for 10 minutes after the second set because
of heat. No. 10 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland beat Petra Mandula of Hungary 6-3, 6-4, and No. 11 Francesca Schiavone of Italy defeated Shinobu Asagoe
of Japan 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Playing later: Justine Henin-Hardenne, Marat Safin and, in doubles, Martina Navratilova.
Swirling winds on the courts occasionally made balls dance oddly, and caused courtside shade umbrellas to tumble over. While the breezes helped keep
players and spectators cool, they might also have contributed to Williams' high unforced error count: 33, one more than Czink.
Several times after miscues, Williams heaved a sigh, covered her face with her palm or rested her hands on her hips. And she questioned at least three
calls, something rarely done by Williams or her younger sister Serena, who pulled out of the Olympics last week.
What's it like being in Athens without Serena, her doubles partner at the Sydney Games?
"Super strange. It was tough for us,'' Williams said. "I haven't told her everything I've been doing, I haven't said a lot about it, because I know
she's pretty upset. So I haven't talked about the Olympics, I just talk about other stuff.''
Her wrists both were heavily taped against the 103rd-ranked Czink. In the second set, the left wrap came undone, flapping in the breeze while she
played. Between points, Williams tried to get the white tape under control by ripping it.
Williams' left knee carried two strips of white bandage that met to form a "V.'' If the four-time major champion and former No. 1 was in pain, though,
it didn't show.
She wound up with a staggering 22-3 edge in winners, many punctuated by grunts that echoed through the arena.
Czink is 3-17 in 2004 and has only once been as far as the third round of a Grand Slam during her career. Her 75 mph serves were a big disadvantage
against Williams, who hit as fast as 110 mph.
Serving for the first set at 5-1, Williams hit a backhand to the corner that was called out. She went up to the chair umpire for an extended
discussion, pointing to where she thought the ball landed.
Two points later, she hit her only volley winner of the match to get to set point, then smacked a 104 mph ace.
Roddick set the tone in his first two service games, reaching 141 mph with offerings the 81st-ranked Saretta couldn't handle.
But Saretta started to get the measure of Roddick's serves in the second set, making for more intriguing play. The second-seeded Roddick is tough in
tiebreakers, however, and he got to match point with a service winner (Saretta questioned the call), then ended it with a forehand winner.
"You've got the best players here,'' Roddick said, "so there are no easy matches.''
[Edited on 8/15/2004 by Ben]