Venus aiming for first Canadian crown

Sisters Venus, left, and Serena Williams were on hand with little sister Serena for the Rogers Cup...

Sisters Venus, left, and Serena Williams were on hand with little sister Serena for the Rogers Cup official draw at Rexall Centre in Toronto, August 5, 2011. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

TORONTO -- Venus Williams' chances of ending her 0-for-Canada streak didn't get any better Friday.

Williams drew former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia for her opening-round match at the Rogers Cup, an unlucky turn of events for a player looking for her first title at Canada's top tennis tournament.

Judging from the reaction of Williams, 31, who was on hand with little sister Serena for the Rogers Cup official draw at Rexall Centre, she knows she'll have her hands full with the 18th-ranked Ivanovic.

"She's similar to me," Williams said. "I know I'll have to play that game better than her."

Having played in just three tournaments in 2011 and the U.S. Open looming later this month, Venus Williams is hoping to find success in an event that hasn't been kind to her in the past.

"This is the U.S. Open Series (a six-week stretch of 10 tournaments), but individually each tournament's importance is very large," she said. "Of course, we want this on our resume, Rogers Cup champion, especially since we haven't won here before. It's always special to try to win for the first time."

In three previous appearances at the Rogers Cup and it's various incarnations, Venus Williams is 0-for-3. It's an unusual stat usually reserved for the mostly faceless and nameless players who occupy the lower ranks of the WTA tour.

A much younger Williams lost in the first round in 1995 and '97, then, two years ago in Toronto, fell to Kateryna Bondarenko in the round of 32 (she had a first-round bye) despite being seeded third.

Ivanovic, meanwhile, is 9-3 at the Rogers Cup and won the tournament in 2006. But, then again, she has won only one of eight previous meetings with Williams and lost their most recent encounter, at the pre-Wimbledon Eastbourne tourney.

Serena Williams, ranked 79th in the world after an injury-plagued year but coming off a win at the Bank of the West Classic in California, will meet Alona Bondarenko, the younger sister of Kateryna Bondarenko, in the first round. Her chances of advancing would appear significantly better than those of her sister.

"I think there are a lot of Grand Slams we both need to keep winning ... and Rogers Cups," Serena Williams, 29, said. "Each (win) has always been special from Day 1. We always try to give 100% when we're out there."

The draw was a little kinder to the Canadian contingent.

Canada's best hope, 41st-ranked Rebecca Marino of Vancouver, will meet Russia's Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. Makarova is ranked 42nd in the world.

News that Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., -- a wild-card entry ranked 107th -- will face an undetermined qualifier drew a smattering of applause from the non-media types in attendance.

Two other Canadians are in the other half of the draw. Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., will play 11th-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany while Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que, will play Shahar Peer.


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