Venus Williams Wants Return to No. 1

Friday, July 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ Venus Williams lost the No. 1 ranking three weeks ago, and can't wait to reclaim it.

``My hope is always to be at the top,'' she said. ``I hope to get back there by the fall. I don't ever want to lose a Grand Slam.''

In her first match since losing in the Wimbledon final, the top-seeded Williams overcame a slow start to defeat Meghann Shaughnessy 6-4, 6-1 in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic on Thursday night.

``It's always hard to recover after a loss, especially after coming so close,'' Williams said. ``I have to know when it's time to step up not to revert back to bad habits but to keep ahead with the good ones.''

Williams dropped to No. 2 after losing to younger sister Serena in the Wimbledon title match.

Anna Kournikova defeated Wynne Prakusya of Indonesia 7-5, 6-4 to win two matches in the same tournament for the first time in two months. She'll meet Williams in Friday's quarterfinals.

``She's had her share of bad luck,'' Williams said. ``But she moves well and she improvises on the court. I have a good record against her and hopefully I will keep a good record against her.''

Lisa Raymond used six aces and three break points to advance to her first quarterfinals in three tries at Stanford, beating Marissa Irvin 6-1, 6-4.

Jelena Jankovic of Yugoslavia, ranked No. 262, upset No. 17 Daja Bedanova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (8), 2-6, 6-3.

``This is a good win for me since I just started playing professional tennis,'' said Jankovic, the No. 1 junior last year. ``It's an unbelievable feeling to beat someone ranked so high.''

Jankovic meets defending champion Kim Clijsters on Friday.

Shaughnessy led 4-2 in the first set before Williams took control, overpowering her 19th-ranked opponent with hard, accurate serves and steady returns in a match lasting 58 minutes.

``I think I was a little bit distracted, but I was able to settle,'' Williams said. ``It seemed like a lot of the points were quick, like she was going for all or nothing. I felt like my shots were very solid.''

Shaughnessy upset Williams in the quarterfinals of the event last year.

``That was a great win but I had to start from scratch,'' said Shaughnessy, who reached the finals in Sydney earlier this season. ``I started serving well and returning aggressively but she got a little more rhythm and I started playing defensively.''

Kournikova advanced past the second round for the first time since the Tennis Masters Series in Rome in mid-May and for just the fifth time in 20 tournaments this season.

``No matter what else happens, this is a great step forward,'' said Kournikova, who beat No. 8 seeded Anna Smashnova on Tuesday. ``A month or two ago I wouldn't have pulled this out.''

Kournikova survived a first set which lasted nearly an hour and was punctuated by long rallies and inconsistent play. She was 3-of-8 in break points.

``I always play well at Stanford,'' said Kournikova, who improved to 7-2 in his third tournament at Taube Family Tennis Center. ``After practicing in Florida, where it's hot, it feels nice here.''

Kournikova is winless in seven matches against Williams.

``I have nothing to lose,'' the Russian said. ``I'm just going to enjoy it and stay on the court as long as I can.''