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Rediff.com  » Sports » Serena scrapes past stubborn Zakopalova

Serena scrapes past stubborn Zakopalova

May 26, 2009 22:55 IST

Serena Williams fought off swirling winds and a bold challenge by Czech Klara Zakopalova to reach the second round of the French Open with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 win on Tuesday.

Zakopalova proved to be a stubborn opponent as she saved five match points in the ninth game of the second set and frustrated the American further by taking the tiebreak 7-5 to level the contest.

World number 100 Zakopalova, who beat Williams at the Andalucia Tennis Championships last month, kept up the momentum in the third set by breaking early before the American clawed back to take four games in a row.

Just when it looked that Zakopalova's day in the spotlight was over, she saved three more match points at 5-2 down and then broke back in the next game.

She finally bowed out on Williams's ninth match point, allowing the Australian Open champion to clinch her first win on clay this season after two hours 25 minutes.

Williams will next face Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual.

Dementieva shakes off bad start to reach round two

Fourth seed Elena Dementieva overcame a nervy start to beat South African qualifier Chanelle Scheepers 6-4, 6-3 and book her place in the French Open second round.

Making her Roland Garros debut, the 25-year-old Scheepers broke twice to surge to a 3-0 lead before the Russian world number four reeled off five games in a row.

The Olympic champion squandered two set points at 5-3, fluffing an easy shot at the net and sending a groundstroke long, before securing the set two games later with a powerful backhand that her opponent could only hit long.

The Russian, runner-up in Paris in 2004 and ranked 145 places above Scheepers, broke twice for a 5-2 lead in the second and served out the match, wrapping it up in 83 minutes with a backhand down the line.

Jankovic and Kuznetsova slide into round two

Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova dodged rain showers to glide into the second round.

Jankovic's Serbian compatriot Novak Djokovic got an easy ride into the last 64 when his opponent Nicolas Lapentti hobbled off court with an ankle injury. Djokovic was leading 6-3, 3-1.

Twenty four hours after the scorching conditions in Paris had left many players hot and bothered, temperatures had dipped by more than 15 degrees Celsius after overnight thunderstorms.

Instead of using her official red and white towel to wipe the sweat off her face, Jankovic used it as a blanket around her shoulders during the changeovers and seemed relieved when she could get back into the warmth of the locker room with a 6-2 6-3 win over Czech Petra Cetkovska.

"I felt a little bit slow after the rain delay when I came back on court again. But I managed to finish the job in two sets, so I'm happy," said the fifth seed, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2008.

Like Jankovic, Russian Kuznetsova also had to endure a two-hour rain break during the first set but she made sure she did not slip up on resumption and bamboozled French wildcard Claire Feuerstein 6-1, 6-4.

Del Potro in a hurry

Men's fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro also appeared to be in a hurry to finish his match before the rain returned and stamped all over French hopes in a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Michael Llodra.

Former Australian Open finalist Rainer Schuettler, however, wished the rain had never stopped.

Four days after being walloped 6-0, 6-0 in the World Team Cup by Sweden's Robin Soderling, the German had to digest some more bagels.

He was heading for becoming the first man since 1993 to suffer the ignominy of losing a grand slam match without winning a game before suddenly waking up to register his name on the scoreboard. He lost 6-0, 6-0, 6-4 to France's Marc Gicquel.

Asked if he felt sorry for his opponent, Gicquel replied: "I wanted to try to give him three times 6-0.

"I didn't come here to sympathise. If I can give him three times 6-0, I will."

Djokovic could, however, sympathise with the plight of Ecuador's Lapentti's since the Serb's last grand slam appearance had ended with his own retirement.

Four months after Djokovic threw in the towel in the Australian Open quarter-finals, the Serb looked concerned when Lapentti went over on his left ankle while trailing 5-2 in the opening set.

Grimacing in pain, Lapentti called on the tournament trainer to strap up the ankle but after limping around court for another six games, the 32-year-old called it quits.

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