Sat, May 29, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Parade of champions victorious in Paris

AP AND REUTERS , PARIS

A schedule backlog caused by rain created a parade of champions on the sixth day of the French Open. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Venus and Serena Williams were among those who advanced.

Four-time champion Nadal lost serve only once as he beat Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

Nadal won with steady play from the baseline, committing only 12 unforced errors, and he also won 16 points at the net.

Seeded-second Nadal improved to 33-1 at Roland Garros, with his lone loss a fourth-round upset against Robin Soderling last year. He is 17-0 on clay this year.

Nadal has lost only 13 games through two rounds and next faces two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt, who outlasted Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

Hewitt improved to 30-14 in five-set matches.

The top-ranked Federer reached the fourth round by beating qualifier Julian Reister of Germany 6-4, 6-0, 6-4.

Federer never faced a break-point and lost only five points on his first serve.

Djokovic, a two-time semi-finalist, overcame nine double-faults for a second-round win over Kei Nishikori of Japan, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

No. 9 David Ferrer was leading 6-2, 6-2, 2-0 when Xavier Malisse retired with a left hamstring injury. No. 19 Nicolas Almagro of Spain, No. 22 Jurgen Melzer of Austria and No. 31 Victor Hansecu of Romania also advanced.

In women’s play, Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin set up a third-round showdown by winning matches suspended overnight because of darkness.

Sharapova finished off Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3, while four-time champion Henin beat Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3.

Now the champions start playing each other.

Henin has a 6-3 record against Sharapova, but the Russian won their most recent meeting in the quarter-finals of the 2008 Australian Open.

That was Henin’s last Grand Slam match before she retired. Now the Belgian is mounting a career comeback and playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2007.

Henin, seeded 22nd, has French Open winning streaks of 23 matches and 39 sets. The No. 12-seeded Sharapova is seeking the only Grand Slam title she has yet to win.

Venus Williams reached the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time since 2006 by beating No. 26 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-4. Once again wearing the lacy corset that has created the tournament’s biggest buzz, Williams hit six aces and lost only four points on her first serve.

The top-ranked Serena Williams won nine consecutive games and advanced to the third round by beating Julia Goerges of Germany 6-1, 6-1.

Williams 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.

Russian qualifier Anastasia Pivovarova, ranked 187th, upset No. 25 Zheng Jie of China 6-4, 6-3. No. 13 Marion Bartoli and No. 29 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also won.

On Thursday, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray ground down feisty opponents to reach the French Open third round, while the rain did a more convincing job, giving organizers a headache by tearing the schedule asunder.

Only 17 singles matches, several of which were held over after Wednesday’s downpours, were completed.

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