Rising Venus has Serena looking over shoulder

Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:24am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Venus Williams's encouraging form at the Australian Open has given younger sister Serena cause to look over her shoulder after the siblings eased into the third round with straight-sets wins at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

For top seed and 18-times grand slam champion Serena, her win over former world number two Vera Zvonareva, on the comeback trail after a 2014 season blighted by injury, was expected.

Venus's struggles with Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease, have made every match she plays a lottery, but the 18th seed had little trouble accounting for fellow American Lauren Davis 6-2 6-3.

Thirty-four year-old Venus was dumped from the first round last year but now finds herself on a seven-match winning streak after clinching the Auckland Open title in the lead-up.

"She is really motivating. She is playing so well, she's doing so good right now," Serena, who famously completed the 'Serena Slam' by beating her sister in the 2003 final at Melbourne Park, told reporters.

"Yeah, it makes me look behind my shoulders and I have to play better and I want to do better.

"I always want to be able to stay ahead as much as I can. So I think that's been, for our whole careers, we've kind of motivated each other. We hopefully continue to do that."

Venus faces a tough third-round match against 33rd-ranked Camila Giorgi, a feisty Italian counter-puncher, who has broken into the top 50 with a bullet.   Continued...

Venus Williams of the U.S. stretches to hit a shot against Lauren Davis of the U.S. during their women's singles second round match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 22, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha