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Venus shrugs off questions about health after beating King in straight sets

by James Mulligan

Maybe Venus Williams needs that vacation after all.

Williams postponed a week of fun in the Thailand sun to play at the AIG Japan Open. The No.1 seed looked as relaxed as one can be without being on holiday after easily beating Vania King 6-0, 6-4 in the second round Wednesday.

In the postmatch press conference, however, she was a little more uptight when quizzed over her fitness from here on in. Rumor had it that she wasn’t feeling tickety-boo after the match.

“Yeah I’m OK for tomorrow. Where did this information even come out?” Williams snapped at a reporter.

“I prefer to talk about my health after this thing is done.”

After Tuesday’s match against Jill Craybas, Wimbledon champion Williams had complained her calves were hurting.

When she beat Maria Kirilenko in the Korea Open final last weekend, her right calf was heavily bandaged.

But Williams wanted to put any fitness concerns to the back of her mind, with her looking to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson championships.

The tournament brings together the top eight players on the WTA Tour and Williams currently sits eighth.

“A win would help me out a lot in terms of distancing myself from the nearest rival (Slovakia’s Daniele Hantuchova),” said the former world No. 1.

“I need to keep concentrating but it’s looking pretty positive.”

Williams sauntered into the quarterfinals in little over an hour on the hard court at Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo. King was a spectator in a 17-minute opening set.

“First set, she didn’t get a racket on the ball,” said Williams.

David Ferrer, top seed in the men’s draw, got off to a winning start against 2005 champion Wesley Moodie, beating the South African 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

Ferrer hadn’t played since the U.S. Open semifinal but said Roger Federer’s withdrawal counts for nothing as he looks to qualify for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

The Spaniard sits sixth in the rankings for the tournament in Shanghai between the top eight players.

“I’m not thinking about Roger Federer I’m just thinking of me,” said Ferrer. “I don’t think just because Roger isn’t here I will win the tournament. It’s just a very important time for me in the race for Shanghai.”

Former champion Lleyton Hewitt eased past Slovenia’s Luka Gregorc 6-3, 6-3.

On the women’s side, India’s Sania Mirza, the second seed, rattled in seven aces during her 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Australia’s Casey Dellacqua.