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French Open Day Four Images

May 28, 2009 12:20 IST

Nadal charges into third round

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World number one Rafael Nadal continued his bid for a fifth consecutive French Open title with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 crushing of Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili in the second round on Wednesday.

The Spaniard, unbeaten at Roland Garros since his debut in 2005, needed two hours 17 minutes to down the world number 72 and set up a third-round meeting with former world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.

Nadal faced three break points in the opening game of the match but that was the highlight of Gabashvili's challenge on Suzanne Lenglen Court.

The four-times champion wrapped up a straightforward win on his first match point for a record 30th consecutive victory at Roland Garros, eclipsing Chris Evert's mark of 29 set between 1974-81.

The American did not compete at Roland Garros between 1976-78.


Image: Rafael Nadal
Photographs: Reuters
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Holder Ivanovic turns in a polished performance

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Holder Ana Ivanovic turned in a polished performance to overcome Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-1, 6-2 and reach the third round of the French Open on Wednesday.

The eighth-seeded Serb, whose first-round match lasted more than two hours, showed more urgency against her 32-year-old opponent, serving out the first set to love after Tamarine hit her forehand return into the net.

Ivanovic broke early in the second before allowing the Thai a glimmer of hope with her own break but the Serb soon put her back in her place, wrapping up victory on her second match point with a sizzling forehand that Tamarine swiped wildly.

Ivanovic, who beat world number one Dinara Safina in Paris last year for her maiden grand slam title, will face either Czech Iveta Benesova or Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva in the next round.


Image: Ana Ivanovic
Photographs: Reuters
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Murray takes a more aggressive approach

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World number three Andy Murray needed a burst of aggression to survive a mid-match meltdown and beat Italian Potito Starace 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday.

The Briton, who has never won a title on clay, had comfortably taken the first set against the world number 104 before falling apart in the second and finding himself set point down at 5-1 in the third.

Struggling to find depth on his groundstrokes and facing a relentless series of unreachable drop shots, one of which had him performing a somersault-type manoeuvre as he tried to chase it down, Murray changed his tactics.

"I managed to turn it around by playing a little bit more aggressive. I got the ball deep into his backhand and came to the net quite a lot," the 22-year-old told a news conference.

The Scot saved two set points in the third set, snuffing out one with a powerful forehand winner.

The 10th game of the third was a noisy affair as Murray, otherwise demure throughout, broke to love.

Increasing the decibels with every point, he shouted "come on" at 0-15, yelled at 0-30, bellowed at 0-40 before screaming the house down at game.

After that, the outcome of the match seemed in little doubt as Murray rediscovered the devilish angles on his shots that had flummoxed Starace in the first set.

The fourth went with serve until the 10th game where Murray unleashed a delightful crosscourt forehand on his third match point to book his place in the next round where he faces Serb Janko Tipsarevic, who was undaunted about facing the third seed.

"I have nothing to lose, therefore I am not scared," Tipsarevic said.

"I'll rely (on the fact) that he's, in my opinion, still not 100 percent comfortable on clay. My idea would be to move him as much as possible, because ... on clay courts he still needs to, in my opinion, use sliding a little bit more."

Murray has never progressed beyond the third round at Roland Garros.


Image: Andy Murray
Photographs: Reuters
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Sharapova's comeback campaign takes off

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After being grounded for months on American soil recovering from a shoulder injury, Maria Sharapova enjoyed watching her French Open campaign take off with a 6-2, 1-6, 8-6 win over fellow Russian Nadia Petrova.

Twelve months after competing in Paris as the world number one, Sharapova turned up ranked 102nd as she is on a comeback trail following a nine-month layoff.

The 22-year-old quickly adjusted to the Roland Garros clay, however, showing stamina and composure to advance into the third round a week after losing in the quarter-finals in Warsaw in her competition comeback.

It was a bit harder for her to adjust to the drill of competitive tennis.

"I had to check my passport to make sure it wasn't expired when I went to Warsaw. That's how long I didn't travel for internationally," she told reporters after her two-hour 12-minute encounter with Petrova.

Sharapova kept her focus while recovering in Arizona.

"I'd be in my hotel room in Phoenix and it would be like 11 p.m. and I'd watch a match and I'd be so motivated from the girls playing I'd go to the gym," she said.

"It would be dark outside and I'd ask them to go to the gym so I could work out."

Sharapova started brightly, finding outrageous angles to unsettle the 11th-seeded Petrova, twice a French Open semi-finalist.

Her compatriot, however, was also up for a fight and it seemed she had turned the tide when she opened a 4-2 lead in the decider after storming through the second set.

Sharapova, only five points from defeat, then seemed to have run out of steam.

But instead of throwing the towel, the three-times grand slam champion shifted up a gear to break back and level for 4-4 in the decider, staving off a couple of break points in the following game.

"I knew coming into this match that Nadia has very good results on clay. I got off to a really good start," said Sharapova.

"I did the right things, and I just kind of started stumbling away. Things went in the wrong direction.

"I was just glad I could pick myself up and keep fighting and do the right things, and end the match with a win."

Sharapova kept her nerve when it mattered, setting up a third-round meeting with Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova after converting her first match point.

She left Court Suzanne Lenglen blowing kisses to the crowd


Image: Maria Sharapova
Photographs: Reuters
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Volatile Safin bids farewell to Paris

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Marat Safin bowed out of his last French Open with typical flashes of brilliance and petulance in a 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 3-6, 10-8 defeat by wildcard Josselin Ouanna that the former world number one was keen to forget.

The hotheaded Russian, who will retire at the end of the year, clawed himself back from two sets down to force a decider where he saved two match points before bashing a wild forehand wide to send the 134th-ranked Frenchman into the third round.

The 20th seed dug himself out of a hole with the type of exquisitely placed forehands that took him to two grand slam titles but then buried himself in deeper trouble with the sloppy shots that trigger his entertaining displays of frustration.

Not one to hold back, he found fault with all his shots.

"(I had a) terrible first serve. And of course, backhand didn't do anything," the 29-year-old told a news conference.

"Basically nothing today ... Especially playing down the line ... and I couldn't find any angles to catch his backhand. Terrible approaches, and of course not covering the net the way I should.

"That's why I'm sitting here, and not feeling well."

Launching into several monologues directed at his racket, the former world number one kicked a ball and punched his racket when he fluffed easy shots and cheered himself when he unleashed the occasional unstoppable shot.

He was less emotional when asked about leaving Roland Garros for the last time.

"Well, as you can see, I didn't draw the heart, and I didn't lay down and I didn't cry and I didn't all those things ... it's not me," he said referring to Gustavo Kuerten tracing a huge heart in the clay and flopping down in the middle of it after winning his third French Open in 2001.

"(It's) a terrible way to finish with the French Open but anyway ... it's okay. It's not so sad. (It) doesn't get me emotional."

A semi-finalist here in 2002, Safin will be counting on his sister Dinara to bring home a Roland Garros trophy after the world number one reached the third round with ease on Wednesday.

Asked what his best memory from the claycourt grand slam would be, Safin replied: "Well, hopefully I can forget this match, for sure.

"My best memory was too far away in history. Nothing really great to write about for the last five years."


Image: Marat Safin
Photographs: Reuters
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