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Venus overpowers Voskoboeva, Sharapova in sights

Venus Williams of the U.S. hits a return to Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis
Venus Williams of the U.S. hits a return to Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis

By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - American Venus Williams took the first step towards a potential third round clash against Maria Sharapova with a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva at the Australian Open on Monday.

The 32-year-old Williams, who won her first tournament in almost three years in Luxembourg last October after battling injuries and illness, was simply too powerful for the 28-year-old, who had problems with her serve the entire match.

The Kazak often lost the ball in the sun during her toss, while on several occasions it drifted the wrong side of the service line. Even then there was little pace on the ball, allowing Williams to step in and blast back forehand winners.

"I mean, the stats looked good for me. I haven't seen them all yet, but I got a high first serve percentage and more winners than errors, so that always makes a good match," Williams told reporters.

"Obviously it's nice to spend less time on the court, and not be in long sets. Obviously a win is a win no matter what it is, but it's nice when it's more routine.

"I did my best to just close it out."

Williams will now meet France's Alize Cornet or New Zealand's Marina Erakovic in the second round, with a mouth-watering clash against world number two Sharapova in her sights after the Russian beat Olga Puchkova 6-0 6-0.

Wearing a self designed watercolor inspired dress on Hisense Arena, Williams is entering the twilight of her career and after battling back from the auto-immune, fatigue inducing illness Sjogren's Syndrome in 2011 she has taken a more philosophical outlook.

"I realize one day it will end," she said of her long career.

"So now I realise all these opportunities. I try to take to best I can of them. When it's over, I will be out and hopefully, I won't run out of money and have to commentate.

"But I'd like to move on from tennis. I love designing. I put my foot in that door already, and probably helping players on the side.

"I love the game, and while I'm here, I'm going to go for it."

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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