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Williams Sisters Both Win in Rome

May 6, 1999

ROME (AP) _ The Williams sisters both won at the Italian Open today.

No. 3 seed Venus Williams needed less than an hour to dispatch No. 9 Anna Kournikova 6-2, 6-2. Williams, already a three-time winner on this year’s tour, mixed in deft drop shots and the occasional net rush with her customary power game.

Her younger sibling, No. 6 Serena Williams, overpowered No. 13 Irina Spirlea of Romania 6-2, 6-3 to get into the quarterfinals. Serena has reached the final of her last three events, winning two.

Second-seeded Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was eliminated in a straight-set loss to Austrian Sylvia Plischke.

Sanchez-Vicario, who has been struggling with a left wrist injury since November, appeared to stop trying to fight back in the 6-4, 6-1 upset. She lost the last game at love.

The defeat cast doubt on the Spaniard’s chances for defending her crown at the French Open, which starts May 24.

``I was hoping to get in more matches here so I could get in top form for the French,″ Sanchez-Vicario said.

No. 4 seed Mary Pierce did advance, battling back to eliminate No. 15 Conchita Martinez 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7-2) in a match that lasted nearly three hours. Pierce also beat Martinez in the 1997 Italian Open final, ending the Spaniard’s run of four consecutive titles at the Foro Italico.

In a minor upset, No. 11 Dominique Van Roost of Belgium got past No. 7 Nathalie Tauziat, a finalist at Wimbledon last year, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

Plischke, 21, picked up her fifth career victory over a top-20 player, and second in a row. She knocked out 12th seed Amanda Coetzer in the second round.

``Arantxa obviously was not in her greatest form today,″ said Plischke, ``but I knew I had to stay aggressive.″

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