Venus overcomes Morigami

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Venus Williams beat Akiko Morigami of Japan 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 on Monday night in the opening round of the Cellular South Cup, a Tier III tournament.

Updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Memphis, Tennessee:

Venus Williams overcame struggles with her serve after a four-month layoff to defeat Akiko Morigami of Japan 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 on Monday night in the opening round of the Cellular South Cup, a Tier III tournament. She will face Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark on Tuesday night. The 16-year-old Wozniacki took three sets to beat Stephanie Foretz of France 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 earlier on Monday. Williams was playing in her first tournament since October and had played only two matches since July because of the nagging left wrist injury. The 26-year-old right-hander, ranked 53rd in the WTA rankings, had already withdrawn from two tournaments earlier this year, including the Australian Open. She declared the wrist ready earlier in the week and said she was ready to return to the court. But she dealt with some long rallies and poor hitting during the 1 hour, 45 minute match. Those factors, along with an erratic serve, kept Morigami in the match. Unseeded American Bethanie Mattek defeated two-time champion Lisa Raymond 6-2, 7-5 in the first round. The 33-year-old Raymond was a back-to-back winner of the CSC in 2002-03, but struggled against Mattek. No 5 seed Nicole Pratt beat Lilia Osterloh 6-3, 6-0 to advance to the round of 16. Malisse injured On the men's side, fifth-seed Xavier Malisse of Belgium retired in the second set of his match with Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia with a right wrist injury. Malisse, who was tied 2-2 in the set after winning the opening set 6-4, will have an MRI on Tuesday morning. Also on Monday, No 6 seed Jurgen Melzer rallied to beat American qualifier Jesse Witten 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the first round of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships. The 24-year-old Witten, a regular on the Challenger circuit, needed just 21 minutes to take the first set from his Austrian counterpart. Melzer regrouped in the second and then won a third-set tiebreaker despite some lingering pain from his injured left wrist. "Losing this match would have been a tough one for me because I think I'm the better player," said Melzer, ranked No. 31 in the world. The 203rd ranked Witten displayed a powerful forehand while breaking Melzer's serve on three occasions.

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