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Venus back with Dubai win

Two-time former winner Venus Williams marked her return to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with an impressive first-round win.

Having landed back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, Williams has been unfit to play at the tournament in the last three years.

But the 33-year-old American stretched her winning run at the tournament to 11 matches in seeing off Russian Elena Vesnina by a 6-3 6-2 margin.

Vesnina defeated Williams for the loss of just four games in the first round at Wimbledon in 2012, and also prevailed when they played in Cincinnati last year, but it was a very different story on the Dubai hard court.

Williams, the five-time Wimbledon champion, said on the WTA Tour website: "The last couple matches I played against her, at Wimbledon she played so well and it wasn't my day, and Cincy as well - I had some chances there but she was clearly more on her game.

"These days I'm a little more on mine, so I was glad to get a win."

Williams' sister Serena is the top seed this week and benefits from a first-round bye.

Their fellow American Sloane Stephens bowed out as the 20-year-old lost 6-3 7-5 to Czech player Lucie Safarova.

Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro saw off Russian Nadia Petrova 6-3 6-2, while Romanian Sorana Cirstea overcame Italian Roberta Vinci 6-4 6-3 and Ekaterina Makarova edged Alisa Kleybanova 6-4 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 in an all-Russian battle.

Australian Open semi-finalist Eugenie Bouchard suffered a 6-1 6-4 defeat to Germany's Annika Beck in the final round of qualifying, the Canadian world No 19 surprisingly bowing out before the main-draw stage of the tournament.