Federer, Venus Williams advance at French Open
By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer
Steven Wine, Ap Sports Writer
13 mins ago
PARIS – Roger Federer sat under a courtside umbrella and looked up at the gray sky as rain fell.
Tennis, anyone? With drizzle continuing after a one-hour delay, Federer rose from his chair, removed his warmup jacket and went back to work.
A change in the weather Wednesday at the French Open barely slowed defending champion Federer, who eliminated Alejandro Falla 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4. The No. 1-ranked Federer calmly endured two weather delays to reach the third round.
"This is how this game has been played for decades," he said. "We're used to walking on and off the court and being flexible about these kind of things."
After three days of warm sunshine, conditions were damp and cool for the start of round two. There was a third delay of 90 minutes after Federer finished, and because of a schedule backlog, two matches were postponed until Thursday.
The defending women's champion, sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, overcame four matches points in the second set and beat Andrea Petkovic 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Petkovic committed unforced errors on all four points.
Before the rain, No. 2-seeded Venus Williams used her big serve to beat Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-2, 6-4. Williams whiffed on a forehand and was often bested in long rallies, but serves at up to 128 mph kept her in control, and she was never broken.
"On the bigger points, especially on my serve, I thought I played those really well," Williams said. "I think that was key."
Williams improved to 14-2 on clay in 2010. She's seeded second behind her younger sister Serena, who scouted while sitting next to their father. The sisters could meet in the final.
Federer lost serve just once against Falla, at 5-all in the opening set, then broke back and hit four winners in the tiebreaker.
"I thought the first set was good, actually, from both sides," Federer said. "He really pushed me to come up with something special, which I couldn't do in the first set, really. I definitely got a little bit lucky to get out of that one."
From there only rain could slow Federer. The match was stopped for 15 minutes in the second set, and again for an hour in the third before play resumed in a drizzle.
He tweaked his game as an adjustment to the weather.
"The texture of the clay changes drastically when there's no sun," he said. "Conditions slow down a lot. ... There are advantages and disadvantages, and you've got to use them if you can."
Federer, who completed a career Grand Slam when he won at Roland Garros last year, is seeking his 17th major title.
No. 5-seeded Robin Soderling won 20 of the first 22 points and went on to beat unseeded American Taylor Dent 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. Soderling, who upset Rafael Nadal last year and then lost to Federer in the final, has dropped only seven games through two matches.
Other men's winners included No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 10 Marin Cilic and No. 11 Mikhail Youzhny.
Only one seeded player lost in either draw: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He was beaten by Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.
In other women's play, No. 26 Dominika Cibulkova rallied past American Varvara Lepchenko 4-6, 6-2, 6-0. Cibulkova, a semifinalist last year, faces Williams next.
"I'll continue to try to execute my game and not worry really a ton about what my opponent is doing," Williams said.
Two-time semifinalist Nadia Petrova, seeded 19th, beat Agnes Szavay 6-1, 6-2. No. 14 Flavia Pennetta defeated Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-1.
For the day's opening match on center court, Williams again wore her lacy corset despite the change in the weather, with temperatures in the 60s. At her postmatch news conference, there were seven questions about her outfit.
"Lace has never been done before in tennis, and I've been wanting to do it for a long time," she said. "The illusion of just having bare skin is definitely for me a lot more beautiful."
Williams sent her flounce flying when she served. She went to deuce six times in her first service game before holding, then pulled away to take the set.
In the second set, both players held until the seventh game. Williams drew Parra Santonja into a moonball rally, then sprinted forward to slam a winner. That gave Williams a 4-3 lead, and she served out the victory, her 28th in 32 matches this year.
In 13 previous French Open appearances, Williams reached the semifinals only once — in 2002, when she lost to Serena in the final. But at 29 she's enjoying a career resurgence, and her record this year is the best on the women's tour.
Dent, a 12th-year pro, won at Roland Garros for the first time in the opening round, but against Soderling his serve deserted him. The American double-faulted eight times and won only 11 points on his first serve.
"That was fun, huh?" Dent said. "I'd be a fool to say that I felt like I was in it at any stage. It would be tough for me to beat the 12-and-under French champion playing that way."
Soderling remained on course for a Roland Garros rematch against Federer in the quarterfinals.
"I'm feeling good," Soderling said. "I won two matches pretty easy in straight sets, and I didn't have to run for many hours on court so far, so I feel fresh."
Tsonga, France's best title hope, defeated fellow Frenchman Josselin Ouanna 6-0, 6-1, 6-4. Cilic swept Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2, and Youzhny rallied past Lukas Lacko 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.