Serena Williams Cruises as Venus Exits French Open Tennis

Serena Williams rebounded from her first-round defeat at the 2012 French Open by routing Anna Tatishvili on day one of this year’s tournament. Her sister Venus was upset in the opening round.

Top-seeded Serena beat the 83rd-ranked player from Georgia 6-0, 6-1 in 51 minutes yesterday on the main Court Philippe Chatrier. Six hours later on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Serena watched Venus lose 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 to Poland’s Urszula Radwanska in a match full of service breaks and long rallies.

“I was just in a really big hole,” Venus Williams told reporters after falling to her earliest exit at Roland Garros in 12 years. “It’s definitely not the place you want to be in the third set. But I just tried to stay positive and keep fighting back. She didn’t really make a lot of errors, kept bringing a lot of balls back and competing well.”

Also on the opening day of the clay-court tennis Grand Slam, former champion Roger Federer and fourth-seeded David Ferrer won in straight sets. While all eight seeded men to complete their matches advanced, No. 30 Venus Williams was joined by 11th-seeded Nadia Petrova as losing women’s seeds.

Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain plays his first round match today against unseeded Daniel Brands of Germany. Defending women’s champion Maria Sharapova of Russia faces 42nd-ranked Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei, while former winner Li Na of China plays Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Major Mark

Venus Williams, 32, was playing in her 59th major, the most among active players on the women’s tour. Her best result in Paris was in 2002, when she lost in the final to her sister.

Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion now ranked 30th on the women’s tour, was diagnosed with the energy-sapping Sjogren’s Syndrome in 2011. She has since struggled during some of her matches with stamina and strength, and has also had several injuries that kept her off the circuit.

Against the 37th-ranked Radwanska, Williams saved five set points before dropping the first-set tiebreaker with a backhand into the net.

The match went into another tiebreaker as Williams twice failed to serve out the set. Radwanska raced to a 4-0 lead, only for Williams to win the next seven points and force a third set.

Radwanska took a 5-2 lead in the final set as Williams continued to struggle with her serve. After fighting back to 4-5, Williams netted a ground stroke to lose in three hours, 19 minutes.

“For me today it’s a positive to be able to play three hours,” Williams said. “I’m constantly finding ways to get better and to feel better.”

Serena Rebounds

Serena Williams fired 27 winners, including 8 aces, in dropping only one game against Tatishvili. Her victory was in contrast to last year, when she fell to her first defeat in the opening round of a major against then 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France.

After the loss, Williams went on a run to the top spot in women’s tennis, winning Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the season-ending WTA Championships and singles and doubles gold at the London Olympics. Her only title in Paris came in 2002.

Ana Ivanovic, another former women’s champion, overcame a challenge from Petra Martic of Croatia to reach the second round. Sara Errani, last year’s runner-up from Italy, eased past Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2.

Federer, the 2009 champion from Switzerland, was never in trouble against Spanish qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta, firing 33 winners to 12 for his opponent in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win.

“I was happy with the way I was able to mix up the game with a player who can play very well on clay,” Federer, who won a men’s record-extending 17th Grand Slam singles crown at Wimbledon last year, said in a news conference.

Men’s Seeds

Ferrer of Spain advanced with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win against Marinko Matosevic of Australia. Milos Raonic, the No. 14 seed from Canada, beat Belgium’s Xavier Malisse 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, while France’s No. 15 seed Gilles Simon overcame former top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in five sets.

No. 18 seed Sam Querrey, the highest-ranked American man, defeated Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Querrey has never gotten to the third round of Roland Garros in seven appearances. Fellow American James Blake, a former top 10 player, lost to Serbia’s Viktor Troicki.

With spectators wrapped up in scarves and hats in temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit), Ivanovic of Serbia opened the tournament on the main Court Philippe Chatrier by beating Martic 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

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