Archive for Thursday, May 31, 2007

Federer gains third round in France

Sharapova, Williams among women’s winners

May 31, 2007


— Roger Federer overcame some late trouble Wednesday to reach the third round at the French Open, beating Thierry Ascione of France, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6, (8).

Federer, bidding for a fourth straight major title and a career Grand Slam, broke his unseeded opponent twice to open both of the first two sets. He added another break in the third set.

The 10-time Grand Slam champion wasn't perfect, however. He was broken while serving for the match at 5-4, wasting two match points.

"Conditions were shocking," said Federer, who played until 9:15 p.m. "I hate playing into (dusk). I can hardly see the ball."

Federer then needed four match points in the tiebreaker - and had to save Ascione's two set points.

"I tried to get out of it as quick as possible," Federer added. "The match was good and I was happy."

Maria Sharapova showed little sign of shoulder trouble and reached the second round by beating Emilie Loit of France, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

The second-ranked Russian wasted seven break points in the first game of the match, but then converted both of her opportunities in the third and fifth games.

"My shoulder is still not where I want it to be. It's still not perfect," Sharapova said.

Loit served for the second set at 6-5, but Sharapova earned her second break of the set to force the tiebreaker.

Venus Williams reached the third round, beating Ashley Harkleroad of the United States, 6-1, 7-6 (8). Williams led 5-1 in the second set, but was broken twice while serving for the match. Serving at 4-1, 30-love in the second set, Williams smacked the fastest recorded serve in a women's main-draw match at 206 kph (128 mph). She noticed the readout on the court's radar meter and let out a laugh, cracking her concentration.

"I loved it," she said. "I just lost a bit of focus there, for sure."

In the tiebreaker, Harkleroad had five set points.

Williams will next face No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, who defeated Catalina Castano, 6-3, 6-3.

Top-ranked Justine Henin also reached the third round, beating Tamira Paszek of Austria, 7-5, 6-1, in a rain-interrupted match. Serena Williams' second-round match against Milagros Sequera was postponed.

"The beginning of the match was exceptional for me, but it was not a real fight," said Henin, trying to win her third straight title in Paris.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion seeded third at Roland Garros, beat Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia, 6-0, 6-3, in the first round.


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