Federer, Nadal, Williams Sisters Advance at French Open Tennis Tournament

With rain forecast for the weekend, Roger Federer and Venus Williams scored straight- set victories to move into the last 16 at the French Open.

Four-time champions Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin and women’s top seed Serena Williams, whose matches were affected by rain this week, advanced to the third round on a sunny day in Paris.

Defending champion Federer defeated German qualifier Julian Reister 6-4, 6-0, 6-4. Second-seeded Venus Williams of the United States reached the fourth round by beating Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-4.

Unlike some players, Federer welcomed the rain.

“Yesterday I didn’t practice at all, so that was nice,” Federer, who became the father of twins last year, said in a news conference. “I spent some time with the family. You’re happy there’s a bit of a change. Because if it’s always the same rhythm every day, it also gets a bit boring.”

Women’s defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was ousted 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 by fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the third round. The sixth-seeded Kuznetsova has struggled all season, entering Roland Garros with opening-round losses at clay-court tournaments in Rome and Madrid.

U.S. Open finalist and No. 3 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark moved into the fourth round for the first time in her career by beating Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru 6-3, 6-4.

By defeating Reister, Federer became the 10th man since tennis turned professional in 1968 to record at least 700 tour-level match wins. The Swiss player, who has won 62 tour-level titles, trails ninth-place Boris Becker by 13 wins. American Jimmy Connors holds the Open Era record with 1,242 victories.

Nadal Moves On

Nadal, from Spain, beat Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in a match delayed a day by rain, and next will face Australian Lleyton Hewitt. Serena Williams, an American, defeated Julia Goerges of Germany 6-1, 6-1.

Nadal, 23, is the 4-11 men’s favorite at U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc, which means a successful $11 bet will return $4 plus the original wager. Federer is next at 3-1.

Third-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat 20-year-old Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 in a second-round match. Briton Andy Murray, the fourth seed, overcame Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 and next will play Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who eliminated No. 17 John Isner of the U.S.

Just as in her previous meetings with the media this week in Paris, Venus Williams had to answer more questions about her black lace tennis dress and skin-colored shorts than about her tennis.

‘Boring Underclothes’

“I try to be as imaginative with my designs as I am with my tennis,” Williams said in a courtside televised interview. Later, in a news conference, she told reporters she won’t be wearing the lace dress again after this tournament.

“I may be wearing all the same boring underclothes as the other people,” Williams said. “As great as the design is, I really want the focus to be on the tennis.”

Henin, a Belgian making her return to the Paris tournament after a 20-month retirement, defeated Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3, leaving her one set shy of the record of 40 consecutive sets won at Roland Garros by Helen Wills Moody eight decades ago.

Henin’s win sets up a third-round clash with former Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, who beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova’s match had been suspended the night before at 2-2 in the second set because of darkness.

Sharapova-Henin Clash

“You really have got to be patient against her,” Sharapova said in a news conference. “I look forward to it. I’ve had really tough losses against her here, but in many of those matches, I learned so much.”

The French Open is the only major title Sharapova, the world’s best-paid female athlete, hasn’t won. She reached the quarterfinals last year shortly after coming back to the women’s tour following a nine-month break for shoulder surgery.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid aduff4@bloomberg.net; Danielle Rossingh at Roland Garros in Paris at drossingh@bloomberg.net

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