Friday, May 28, 2010
Sisters, Henin, Sharapova advance
ESPN.com news services
PARIS -- Serena Williams waited a day to play and then won before lunch Friday at the French Open.
With almost mistake-free tennis, the top-ranked Williams won nine consecutive games and advanced to the third round by beating Julia Goergess 6-1, 6-1.
Venus Williams had little trouble, too, reaching the fourth round of the French Open for the first time since 2006 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 26 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who was a semifinalist at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament last year.
Venus again wore the black lacy corset that has created the tournament's biggest buzz, and she said she'll retire the outfit after the tournament.
"I may be wearing all the same boring underclothes as the other people," said Venus, who designed the corset. "I mean, as great as the design is, I really want the focus to be on the tennis. So obviously wearing lace on the court will still be an amazing innovation, but I'll have to find a way to try to make it a little less noteworthy."
Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was upset by 30th-seeded Maria Kirilenko. Kirilenko edged the sixth-seeded Kuznetsova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in an all-Russian match to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time.
Kuznetsova narrowly averted a loss in the previous round, when she saved four match points. She delayed her departure briefly Friday, too, saving two match points before Kirilenko converted her third when Kuznetsova pushed a backhand wide.
The loss means Kuznetsova will drop out of the top 10 in the rankings for the first time in more than four years.
A schedule backlog caused by rain forced Serena and others to wait until the sixth day of the tournament for their second-round matches.
Serena won in 55 minutes and said such a rout can help her in later matches.
"I can learn a lot, like, 'OK, what am I doing today? How can I get them to all be like that?'" Serena said. "Those are the questions that I ask and I try to answer."
Venus hit six aces, and her 20 winners were twice as many as Cibulkova's total. Venus lost in the third round at the French Open from 2007 through 2009. She hasn't reached the semifinals since 2002, when she was beaten in the final by Serena.
Maria Sharapova and four-time champion Justine Henin won suspended matches and advanced to a third-round showdown.
Henin, seeded 22nd, needed just four games to close out her victory, beating Klara Zakopalova 6-3, 6-3. Play was stopped Thursday because of darkness, with Henin leading 3-2 in the second set.
Competing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2007 following a retirement, Henin extended her French Open winning streaks to 23 matches and 39 sets.
"It's going to be an interesting match," Henin said. "Comes very early, of course, third round, but I expect a big fight as we always had in the past. It's going to be very exciting to play her again in the second career. The motivation is going to be really high just to keep going in this tournament."
Sharapova defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 6-3. The score was 2-all in the second set when play resumed following an overnight stoppage.
Seeded 12th, Sharapova is bidding for the only Grand Slam title she has yet to win.
"We've had some great matches in the past," Sharapova said. "I've had some tough losses and great wins. I look forward to this one."
Serena, bidding for her first title at Roland Garros since 2002, played aggressively and still committed only four unforced errors to 20 for Goerges. Serena often moved two steps inside the baseline to smack returns, and she won 15 of 19 points on Goerges' weak second serves.
Serena held every service game and sprinted forward several times to finish off points with swinging volleys.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion has won 41 consecutive second-round matches in major tournaments since losing in that round in her Grand Slam debut in 1998 to her sister Venus. Serena and Venus are seeded 1-2 in the tournament.
"We're having so much fun at this time of my career, and you know, we just feel good," Serena said. "We're doing the best we can, and we're enjoying every moment."
In other matches, Russian qualifier Anastasia Pivovarova, ranked 187th, upset No. 25-seeded Zheng Jie of China 6-4, 6-3. No. 13 Marion Bartoli also won. Unseeded American Jill Craybas lost to No. 29 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-1.