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Venus toppled in Toronto by Kateryna Bondarenko

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:40

I would say when we shook hands.” That, joked Venus Williams, was the moment that she realised she had crashed out of the Rogers Cup, losing 1-6 7-5 6-4 to Kateryna Bondarenko in her first match of the tournament.

The No.3 seed, who had received a bye in the first round, had not played in Toronto since 1997, but had her return to the Rexall Centre cut short by a dogged performance from the 23-year-old Ukrainian.

World No.64 Bondarenko, a qualifier at the US Open warm-up event, was blown away in the first set as Williams looked set to post a routine victory.

But the American took her foot off the gas just enough to give Bondarenko a chance to claw her way back into the match in the second set, chasing down every ball she could and forcing Williams to hit one more shot.

I feel like I can win with anybody if I can with Venus” – Kateryna Bondarenko

It doesnt matter who is youre opponent, said the Ukrainian after posting just her third win over a top ten-ranked player. I just tried to focus more and my serve was better than in the first set and my returns were good. I just tried to keep my ball in play.

It proved enough for Bondarenko to break Williams three times in the second set to sneak it 7-5, before securing a break for a 5-4 lead in the third. Unlike WIlliams, it was while serving for the match that the reality of the situation hit home for the Ukrainian.

I feel like I can win with anybody if I can with Venus, she said afterwards. It gives me confidence.

Williams, in contrast, was keen to downplay the impact the result might have on her preparations for the US Open.

I have to take it as a positive, said Williams. Now, it will give me a chance to rest. Its been a really busy summer for me – Ill just take advantage of this and keep training and prepare for the Open.

She just kept trying, added the nine-time Grand Slam champion. It says a lot. I was definitely expecting to play well and go far into the tournament.”

Fellow former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic survived suffering a similar fate to the American, rallying to defeat Slovakias Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6 6-3 6-2.

I was trying to play a little too safe, I think, said the Serbian former Rogers Cup champion, who was nearly made to pay for sitting back in the first set.

I thought things were going to come easier, because I can just make my shots. But it wasnt, because I was too defensive.

After having her serve broken twice in the first set, Ivanovic requested a coachs timeout and was simply told: start going for winners.

He said exactly that, said Ivanovic, that Im too passive and have to be aggressive and commit to my shots a little more. And thats what I did. So it worked out good.

In the evening session, Kim Clijsters continued her post-retirement comeback with a straight sets win 6-3 6-4 over Elena Baltacha, while Svetlana Kuznetsova fell 6-4 6-3 to Samantha Stosur.

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