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French Open Top Seeds Djokovic, Azarenka Win; Federer Advances

Roger Federer was pushed to four sets for the second straight French Open match, while top seeds Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka won in straight sets.

Djokovic beat Nicolas Devilder of France 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in a third-round match yesterday at Roland Garros in Paris, while Azarenka defeated Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4, 6-4.

Federer, the No. 3 seed, beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to extend his record of Grand Slam match wins to 235. The 16-time tennis major winner also was forced to four sets in his last match.

“Struggled a little bit, but overall obviously I’m happy I came through,” the Swiss right-hander said in a news conference.

Six-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain, seeded second this year, will play Eduardo Schwank of Argentina today in the third round. Women’s matches include American Christina McHale against defending champion Li Na of China.

Maria Sharapova won a second-round match yesterday that had been postponed from the day before, and No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska became the highest-seeded woman to lose.

Djokovic, bidding to become the first man to hold all four major titles at once since Rod Laver in 1969, broke the serve of the 286th-ranked Devilder seven times and fired 28 winners to the Frenchman’s 16.

The Serb will next play Italian Andreas Seppi, who beat Fernando Verdasco of Spain in four sets. Azarenka, of Belarus, will meet Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova. The winner of the Azarenka-Cibulkova match will move on to face either American teenager Sloane Stephens or sixth seed Samantha Stosur of Australia in the quarterfinals.

Stephens Advances

Stephens, 19, beat France’s Mathilde Johansson 6-3, 6-2 yesterday to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time. Stosur defeated Russia’s Nadia Petrova in straight sets.

Federer easily took the first and third sets, but looked flat at times in losing the second and winning the fourth. He next faces Belgian qualifier David Goffin, who beat Poland’s Lukasz Kubot in straight sets.

Sharapova beat Japan’s Ayumi Morita 6-1, 6-1 in a match rescheduled because of a 5 1/2-hour contest between John Isner and Paul-Henri Mathieu. The Russian hit 22 winners to just one for Morita.

“Nice to get out there and finish and get in the third round,” said Sharapova, who plays China’s Peng Shuai today for a spot in the fourth round.

Radwanska lost to 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 in a third-round match. The Pole, who ousted American Venus Williams in the second round, needed to win the title to have a chance at taking over the top spot in the world rankings.

“It’s always disappointing when losing in the first week of a Grand Slam,” she said. “I didn’t play bad, she was just playing unbelievable.”

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