BEIRUT

Tennis

Serena Williams shifts focus to Olympics

Williams is in excellent form after having won 28 of her last 29 matches.

CARLSBAD, California: While Stanford champ Serena Williams shifts her focus to the London Olympics, runner-up Coco Vandeweghe is poised to continue her breakthrough season at this week’s WTA Carlsbad event. Williams, who earlier this month won her fifth Wimbledon crown, beat the 20-year-old Vandeweghe 7-5 6-3 Sunday for her second straight WTA Tour title at the Stanford tournament.

The world No. 4 is not in competition this week after winning Stanford and will soon be heading to Britain for the Summer Games.

“[A gold medal] would mean a lot to me, but I can’t put all my hopes and dreams on just that,” said the 30-year-old Williams, who has twice lifted Olympic doubles gold with her elder sister Venus.

“But it would mean a lot and I’d like to try to get one,” Williams said, who has won 28 of her last 29 matches.

Vandeweghe, who rebounded from a lucky loser start at Stanford to make the first title bid of her career, opens this week in the first round at the La Costa resort in Carlsbad against South African sixth seed Chanelle Scheepers.

The right-handed Californian has risen from a ranking of 120th to 69th as a result of her hardcourt run. She credits an improved serve under the tutelage of former ATP player Jan-Michael Gambill with lifting her game.

“It has been coming in clutch,” she said of her new, improved delivery.

“I’ve worked hard on my serve, it’s a big weapon for me. I’ve been making a lot of first serves, and I can put pressure on an opponent by serving consistently well.”

The Carlsbad field is headed by France’s Marion Bartoli, with Slovak Dominika Cibulkova the second seed and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic seeded third.

Monday’s opener saw Poland’s Urszula Radwanska knock out sixth seed Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 7-5.

The 29-year-old Hantuchova has struggled since returning from a foot injury that forced her to miss a host of tournaments this summer.

She is playing the event for the ninth time, having reached the semis in 2010 before losing to Radwanska’s world No. 2 sister Agnieszka.

Alexa Glatch won an all-American clash over Lauren Davis 6-3 6-2, with Glatch hammering 10 aces in a match that lasted only 75 minutes.

“It’s tough to play another American girl – she’s a good player, an up-and-comer,” Glatch said, who will face Petrova. “I’m just happy to get the win and move on to the next round.”

Japan’s Misaki Doi won after a meltdown by Michelle Larcher de Brito. The Portuguese smashed a racquet after losing 6-7 (6/8) 6-1 6-3.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 18, 2012, on page 14.

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