Venus Williams reaches second round

ACAPULCO: Top-seeded Venus Williams won her first clay-court match of the season, defeating Mathilde Johansson of France 6-2, 6-3 to reach the second round of the Mexican Open.

Williams, the defending champion here who is coming off a hard-court tournament victory at Dubai on Sunday, and she seemed to make the switch to the slippery clay without too many problems.

"It was a really good first match," Williams said. "I was just trying to get my rhythm on the clay and make the transition."

Williams has never won the French Open, the only grand-slam event on clay. But she reached the 2002 final and sounded positive about still having a chance.

"I think inherently right now I am a lot more patient," she said. "So when I see that open court I know that it''s not necessarily a winner on clay - so it doesn''t look so tempting. I feel smarter, actually.

"I''ve won almost every (clay-court) tournament I''ve played and I got to the finals of the French," she added. "I just haven''t had that title yet. Some people say ''she''s not that good on clay,'' but I don''t feel that way. At the end of the day it''s about how I feel on the court. I''m good on it."

In other women''s first round matches, third-seeded Gisela Dulko of Argentina defeated Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 and No. 5 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain beat Hungary''s Greta Arn of Hungary 6-0, 6-0.

On the men''s side, No. 1-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain rallied from a set down to defeat Italy''s Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-0. No. 3 David Ferrer also advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Italy''s Potito Starace.

Sixth-seeded Nicolas Almagro and eight-seeded Albert Montanes - both from Spain - came through their first-round matches.

Almagro beat Dudi Sela of Israel 6-1, 7-6 (0) and Montanes advanced with a win over countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

Verdasco, the No. 10-ranked player, saved all six break points he faced in the second set before dominating the final set.

Verdasco defeated Andy Roddick in the SAP Open final 10 days ago in San Jose, California, but lost in the first round last week in Memphis.