Two-time women’s champion Serena Williams made it past the second round of the French Open this time, and next faces a familiar opponent as she continues her bid for a 20th major singles tennis title.
On a cool and windy Thursday afternoon on Court Suzanne Lenglen at Roland Garros in Paris, the top-seeded American battled her way through an error-strewn three-set match against Anna-Lena Friedsam, a German ranked 104 spots below her.
In the end, the experienced Williams prevailed 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 despite losing her serve four times and making 52 unforced errors, including eight double faults.
Williams told reporters she felt “a bit nervous” against Friedsam because she lost at the same stage and on the same court last year in Paris.
Next up is Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, a two-time Australian Open champion and the 27th seed in Paris.
“Out of all of the top players, for whatever reason, she’s given me some particular troubles,” Williams said in a news conference. “It will be a tough match. I do know if I play the way I did today, I probably won’t be winning my match. So I’m going to have to step it up a level. Probably just get out, start up better and be more relaxed and go from there.”
Although Williams has beaten Azarenka 15 times in 18 matches, and won all three of their encounters on clay, she had to save three match points in their last meeting, earlier this month in Madrid.
“There’s no question I have to come up with my A game,” Azarenka said after she dropped five games against Czech Lucie Hradecka.
In men’s play on Thursday, nine-time winner Rafael Nadal had a trouble-free passage to the third round against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia overcame hip discomfort to fire 35 winners past Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller in a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Djokovic, who has won every major except Roland Garros, extended his match winning streak to 24 this season and said he might have hurt himself while sliding on a slippery court.
“Jammed the hip a little bit,” he told reporters. “Thankfully it’s nothing serious, really. It’s going to be fine.”
Roger Federer, the 2009 French Open champion from Switzerland, is in action Friday against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, while defending women’s champion Maria Sharapova of Russia plays former U.S. Open winner Sam Stosur of Australia.
Britain’s Andy Murray overcame Portugal’s Joao Sousa, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 as daylight faded at Roland Garros. After receiving a time violation in the second set, the crowd booed two-time major winner Murray after he told umpire Pascal Maria he’d been waiting for the highlights to finish on the big screen inside the main stadium.
John Isner, the highest-seeded American man at No. 16, lost to France’s Jeremy Chardy, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. But 37th-ranked Jack Sock, also from the U.S., beat Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) to move to his first third-round spot at Roland Garros.
Women’s fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki lost, while former Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens of the U.S. advanced in straight sets against Britain’s Heather Watson.
In a battle between two former women’s champions on Court No. 1, Francesca Schiavone of Italy outlasted Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (11-13), 7-5, 10-8. Ten minutes shy of four hours, it was third-longest women’s match in Roland Garros history. Schiavone, the 2010 winner, saved a match point before winning.
The 34-year-old Italian had also defeated Kuznetsova at the 2011 Australian Open in the longest women’s Grand Slam match in the Open era lasting four hours, 44 minutes.
“She is amazing, and every time I play against her I say, ‘Oh, my God, now what can happen?’” Schiavone said. “And it’s happen a long match again.”