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Australian Open kicks off



Published: Mon, January 17, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Williams loses shoe but still runs past opponent.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Serena Williams had more trouble with her shoes than she did with first-round opponent Camille Pin at the Australian Open today, winning 6-1, 6-1 in the opening match on center court.

Williams, who completed a "Serena Slam" with a victory at Melbourne in 2003 but missed last year's first Grand Slam event due to an injured knee, mixed 27 winners with 22 unforced errors.

The seventh-seeded Williams hit some brutal backhand winners and kept the 23-year-old Pin scrambling just to stay in points.

Williams did a lot of running early, winning nine net approaches and producing seven winners before her right shoe fell off at deuce in the second game and skidded behind the baseline.

Williams laced up the shoe and won the point when it was replayed. She spent time between games tying and retying her shoelaces, but otherwise didn't have any problems.

Pin hit just one clean winner in each set and didn't hold serve in the match.

In the only other completed first-round match, U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat American Jessica Kirkland 6-1, 6-1 in 43 minutes.

The fifth-seeded Kuznetsova hit 22 winners and five aces. Kirkland had five doubles faults, 14 unforced errors and just two winners.

Men's draw

Top-ranked Roger Federer was to follow Williams onto center court at Rod Laver Arena, facing France's Fabrice Santoro. Federer won 11 titles last season, including the Australian and U.S. Opens, Wimbledon and the season-ending Masters Cup.

He has a 21-match winning streak and is victorious in his last 14 finals.

Andre Agassi is to play German qualifier Dieter Kindlmann later Monday despite a hip injury that forced him to quit an exhibition match against second-ranked Andy Roddick leading up to this tournament.

Agassi, a four-time winner of the Australian Open, said the small tear in a tendon in his right hip didn't trouble him too much after a weekend match against Tim Henman.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: -- When Jim Courier asked top-ranked Roger Federer about his chief threat at the Australian Open, the Swiss star responded with a stock answer: the next three men in the rankings -- Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Marat Safin -- plus Andre Agassi.

Courier, a former No. 1 who has replaced John McEnroe as this year's color commentator for Australia's Seven Network, was having none of it.

He pressed Federer, who initially resisted. Courier then said if Federer gave him a straight answer, he would bid nearly $2,300 for a racket that is among three items Federer donated for an auction for tsunami relief efforts.

"Hewitt," Federer quickly answered with a grin.

Courier held true to his word. His offer was listed on the auction site later in the day.




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