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Venus back on track with Dubai win

Venus Williams at full stretch during her win over Alicia Molik in Dubai.
Venus Williams at full stretch during her win over Alicia Molik in Dubai.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Venus Williams re-booted her 2004 season with a straight sets win over Australian No.1 Alicia Molik in the Dubai Open.

Former world number one Williams, seeded two, beat 23-year-old Molik 6-3 6-4, returning to action after an injury sustained in Tokyo three weeks ago.

She had only returned to action in the Australian Open last month after a six-month layoff caused by an abdominal injury picked up at Wimbledon.

"I haven't had to have surgery, so in a way I'm fortunate. But I have had injuries that are hard to heal," said Williams, who surprisingly lost to Lisa Raymond in the third round at the Australian Open.

"I think it's possibly good to have some time off. I think having time off and returning to some kind of normality will lengthen my career.

"I got to wake up late, which was an extremely new experience. That was nice. I did my physiotherapy, of course, and did what training I could."

The 23-year-old said she had also been spending a lot of time at her interior design business in Florida.

Meanwhile, third seed Jennifer Capriati was beaten in straight sets in her first competitive match since November.

The American was clearly lacking in match sharpness as she went out 6-4 7-6 to Eleni Daniilidou of Greece

"She's a really tough player, and even when I've been in the best shape and playing well I've had tough matches with her," said Capriati.

"But it was a good test and I'm not too displeased with the way I played. Obviously I'm a little rusty, and it was just a few points here and there."

Daniilidou, who successfully defended her Auckland title in January, said her positive attitude was the key to her victory.

"Against the top players you have to play like this because they don't give you many opportunities," she said. "I was focused and moving well."

Top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne is safely in the last eight after a 6-1 7-5 success over Tunisian Selima Sfar.

There were also second round wins for fourth seed Anastasia Myskina of Russia, fifth seed Ai Sugiyama and eighth seed Conchita Martinez.

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