Women’s top seed Serena Williams overcame sickness to move into the last sixteen of the French Open while fellow American Andy Roddick lost to a qualifier. Novak Djokovic struggled with his serve during his victory.
Williams had eased past the Russian in the first set, before losing five games in a row in the second. She recovered after taking medicine and having her pulse taken on court.
I “just ran out of a little energy out there,” Williams said. “Just fighting a cold and fighting sickness. But, you know, I’m just feeling better and getting ready for doubles.”
Williams has won the French only once, when she beat her sister Venus in 2002, making it her least-successful Grand Slam event. Williams won her 12th major, tying the record of her mentor Billie Jean King, by winning the Australian Open at the beginning of the season. After Australia, she didn’t play a match until the first week of Rome because of a knee injury.
Today’s win means Williams will remain No. 1 in the world when the WTA Tour rankings will be published the day after Roland Garros ends.
She will next play Shahar Peer of Israel, who beat French No. 13 seed Marion Bartoli 7-6 (9-7), 6-2. Former top-ten player Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia defeated U.S. Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 7-5, 6-3.
Russia’s Nadia Petrova ousted France’s Aravane Rezai 6-7 (2- 7), 6-4, 10-8. Their match had resumed at 7-7 in the third set, after both fended off three match points before play was suspended yesterday because of darkness. Petrova’s win means there are no more Frenchwomen left in the singles draw.
Roddick, a losing finalist at Wimbledon last year, had also struggled in his previous two rounds, needing four sets in both matches.
Roddick last year made it to the fourth round at the French Open, his best performance in eight visits to the clay-court Grand Slam. The last American man to have won a major, at the 2003 U.S. Open, Roddick has had most of his success on the faster hard and grass courts.
“I fought through a couple of matches that were a little dicey,” Roddick said. “Today I got outplayed from the first ball. It was a tough matchup for me in these conditions. He has pretty big swings and gets good length on the ball.”
The American didn’t have a good preparation on the surface. He didn’t play the Rome clay-court because he wanted to spend more time with his wife Brooklyn, while he was forced to pull out of the Madrid Masters because of illness. He’d only played two exhibition matches on clay the week before Roland Garros.
Djokovic, the third seed, defeated Romania’s Victor Hanescu, the 31st seed, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Djokovic slowed his serve to increase his accuracy after six double faults cost him the second set on a windy and sometimes rainy day.
He used drop shots and his speed to overcome the Romanian. The Serb pumped his fists after breaking Hanescu to go to 5-2 in the fourth and serve for the match.
The men’s doubles tournament also started with an upset. Brazilian pair Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares beat top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan 6-3 7-6 (8-6).
The Bryan brothers are one tournament win away from breaking the all-time professional career men’s record for team doubles titles. They share the mark of 61 with retired Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.
The Belgian, who returned to the women’s tour at the start of the year following a 20-month retirement, leads Sharapova 6-3 in career meetings.