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V. Williams, Davenport Work Quickly At Fed Cup

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page E02

Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport gave the U.S. Fed Cup team a 2-0 lead over Belgium.

Williams defeated Els Callens, 6-2, 6-2, yesterday in Delray Beach, Fla., shortly after Lindsay Davenport needed just 39 minutes to beat Eveline Vanhyfte, 6-0, 6-2.

Venus Williams hits a backhand against Els Callens during their match in Delray Beach, Fla. (Carlos Barria -- Reuters)

The 392nd-ranked Vanhyfte, looking nervous throughout the match, was overwhelmed by Davenport, ranked No. 1 in the world and the first top player the 21-year-old Belgian had faced.

The Belgians are playing the first-round Fed Cup contest without their top two players, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters.

In the first set, Davenport won 28 of 33 points. She won the first eight points before Vanhyfte won a point on her serve.

"Obviously, it was a tough position for her to come out in, her first big match," Davenport said of her opponent. "I was just trying to take advantage of that."

In the three other quarterfinal series, Elena Dementieva won to give defending champion Russia a split with Italy; France and Austria also were tied at 1, and host Spain took a 2-0 lead over Argentina. . . .

Top-seeded Andy Roddick was broken twice in the first six games before charging back to dominate Jurgen Melzer of Austria, 6-4, 6-2, and reach his fifth straight final at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston.

In today's title match, Roddick will face France's Sebastien Grosjean, who almost stumbled in the second set before rallying at the end for a 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti.

SOCCER: Chelsea beat Fulham, 3-1, to move within two points of its second English championship and its first since 1955.

The Premier League title could come tomorrow if second-place Arsenal ties or loses to Tottenham. If not, Chelsea can clinch it with victory at Bolton next Saturday.

"They know it's just one more victory and it's done," Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho said. "We have felt that the trophy must come here."

Chelsea has 85 points with four games remaining, while Arsenal has 71 points and five games left.

Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Eidur Gudjohnsen scored for Chelsea. . . .

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