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Venus plays mind games: It's been more than three years since Venus Williams, above, won a Grand Slam title. After not even really contending for one in 2004, she's healthier and hoping to go far at



Published: Fri, January 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Venus plays mind games: It's been more than three years since Venus Williams, above, won a Grand Slam title. After not even really contending for one in 2004, she's healthier and hoping to go far at the Australian Open. And she keeps telling herself she can do just that. "No matter what happens -- whether you played well, whether you played badly, whether you made good decisions or bad ones -- mentally you always have to feel like it's your turn to win," Williams said. "I think that's the best mind-set." She moved into the third round by beating China's Peng Shuai 6-3, 6-1 Thursday. Last year, she lost in the third round at Melbourne, setting the tone for her season. She was beaten in the quarterfinals at the French Open, the second round at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the U.S. Open. The most recent of Williams' four major titles came at the 2001 U.S. Open. But with defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, 2004 runner-up Kim Clijsters and two-time champ Jennifer Capriati out with injuries, Williams figures the title chase is wide open. And she believes she has the answer to winning again: "Just continue the battle -- prepare better, play better, think better, be better." After a sputtering start Thursday in which Peng broke her serve, Williams took control, breaking back in the next game. She converted six of 13 break-point chances in the match, enough to advance to a match Saturday against Anna Smashnova of Israel.

Emotional Myskina: French Open champion Anastasia Myskina often watches tapes of her matches. She often doesn't like what she sees. Myskina stormed around the court during her 6-4, 6-2 second-round win over Tzipora Obziler of Israel at the Australian Open. She kicked balls, hit them into the court, yelled at herself and gestured with her hands to her face. In the past, she's thrown rackets and even yelled into the crowd at her coach, Jens Gerlach, for not supporting her enough. Myskina says she's trying to improve, but on Thursday she looked like a work in progress. She said she's "been talking to my coach a lot about this. I see myself on TV, and I don't really like it. So I think that maybe I will change a lot. The way you look is really important."

Final set: Tears came to Barbara Schett's eyes Thursday, watching Daniela Hantuchova serve for their match at the Australian Open. That's when reality set in for the 12-year WTA Tour veteran: This would be her last singles match on the circuit. "It was not very emotional until she had match point," Schett said. "I was like, 'Oh, my God, where does that come from now?' This was going to be the last point of my career. I just realized it and it was very emotional." Schett lost 6-4, 6-0.

Associated Press

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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