PARIS (AP) — The Latest from the French Open:
Serena Williams will face a familiar foe in the French Open third round: former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
They’ve played 18 times previously, with Williams winning 15 of those matches, including in the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Open finals.
Azarenka, a two-time champion at the Australian Open, moved on in Paris on Thursday by eliminating Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 6-3.
Azarenka is playing better than her ranking— 27 — suggests. She was a straight-sets winner, 6-2, 6-1, is the first round, too.
Shaking off an unsteady first set, Serena Williams won 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 against Anna-Lena Friedsam, winning 15 of the last 16 points on her serve.
The top seed in the women’s draw is through to the third round for the first time since 2013, the year she went on to win the second of her two French titles.
She lost in the second round last year.
Rafael Nadal had no real trouble against Nicolas Almagro, winning their second-round match 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. And he won brownie points with the center court crowd, eliciting their cheers, by using French to tell them how happy he is.
The nine-time champion’s shot-making was erratic at times. But he is moving well, suffocating Almagro with his persistent ball-retrieving. Nadal has now won 13 of 14 matches against his fellow Spaniard, ranked 154th.
Nadal is seeded lower than ever, sixth, at this French Open following a right-wrist injury, appendix surgery and, this season, disappointing results on clay, the surface where he once was superhuman.
On the Court Philippe Chatrier, where he won his nine French titles, Nadal looked solid if not spectacular.
“The forehand has been great, the backhand, too,” he said. “The movement has been better.”
Serena Williams looks back on track, at least for now, in her second-round match on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Williams won the second set 6-3 against Anna-Lena Friedsam, having lost the first set to the 21-year-old ranked 104 spots below her.
The top-ranked Williams hasn’t lost a three-set match this year, with a 7-0 record.
Francesca Schiavone has won an epic second-round match against Svetlana Kuznetsova on Court 1, with 13 breaks of serve in the third set, nine of them consecutive.
You may need a calculator to tot up the score: 6-7 (11), 7-5, 10-8.
The matchup of the past French Open champions lasted a grueling 3 hours, 50 minutes.
That’s still not their record. At the 2011 Australian Open, Schiavone beat Kuznetsova in the longest women’s match, by time, in Grand Slam history — a 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 marathon that lasted 4 hours, 44 minutes. Schiavone saved six match points, then converted on her third match point.
This time, Schiavone needed just one match point. At 15-40 in the final game, Kuznetsova attempted a forehand drop-shot but it sailed limply into the net.
Russia’s Kuznetsova, seeded 18th this time, won the title at Roland Garros in 2009, a year before Italy’s Schiavone did.
Serena Williams is in trouble in the second round of the French Open.
She lost the first set 7-5 to Anna-Lena Friedsam, a 21-year-old ranked 104 spots below the No.1.
Williams is having trouble with all her strokes, especially her serve.
Last year, the 19-time Grand Slam champion exited the French Open at this stage.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is through to the French Open third round.
The fourth seed beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2.
Kvitova was a semifinalist at the French in 2012.
The 17th-seeded woman, Sara Errani, also advanced against Carina Witthoeft, winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Errani was a finalist at the French in 2012.
Thanks to his next opponent’s withdrawal, Japan’s Kei Nishikori is the first player to advance to the second week of the French Open — and he gets plenty of extra time for rest and preparation.
The fifth-seeded Nishikori was supposed to play Benjamin Becker in the third round on Friday, but Becker pulled out of the tournament Thursday because of a muscle tear in his right shoulder.
“Very sorry to hear about Benjamin being injured,” Nishikori tweeted here: https://twitter.com/keinishikori/status/603873170160943104 .
That puts Nishikori in the fourth round at Roland Garros for the second time. In 2013, he became the first man from Japan to make it that far in 75 years.
Next for Nishikori will be a match on Sunday against Lukas Rosol or Teymuraz Gabashvili.
Becker played in two consecutive five-set matches, beating No. 32 Fernando Verdasco 10-8 in the fifth on Wednesday.
The French Open loses its fifth-seeded woman, with Caroline Wozniacki losing 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the second round.
Her opponent, Julia Goerges, overcame the sniffles, frequently pulling out a tissue to wipe her red nose.
“Today is very special as I haven’t beaten a top-10 player for a long time,” said the German ranked 67 spots lower than the Dane, ranked five.
In the tiebreaker, “I just told myself to be aggressive,” she said. “It paid off in the end.”
Wozniacki, a former No. 1 and two-time finalist at the U.S. Open, has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at the French. She looked distracted against Goerges, picking dust from under her fingernails during a second-set changeover after losing her serve in the 7th game.
In a matchup of past French Open champions on Court 1, Svetlana Kuznetsova has taken the first set from Francesca Schiavone in an epic tiebreaker than ended 13-11.
Kuznetsova finally seized the 82-minute set on her seventh chance, hitting a backhand volley winner to close a 15-stroke exchange.
Russia’s Kuznetsova won the title at Roland Garros in 2009, a year before Italy’s Schiavone did.
Fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki is making life difficult for herself, losing the first set 6-4 against an opponent ranked 67 spots below her, Julia Goerges.
The formerly top-ranked Dane broke the German in the fourth game, but then lost her next two service games. She angrily thumped her racket on the clay after netting a backhand that allowed Goerges to pull ahead 4-3.
The crowds are being slow to fill their court, Philippe Chatrier, which is barely half-full. The menacing weather doesn’t help: Dark clouds are filling the sky and a distinctly chilly breeze is flapping at the players’ yellow skirts.
Thwack, grunt, thwack.
Play is underway on Day 5 of the French Open, where 23 seeded players will be kicking up clay dust against lower-ranked opponents looking to upset the hierarchy.
The top seeds, Serena Williams for the women and Novak Djokovic among the men, are both in action in successive second-round matches on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The spotty form of defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal will be closely scrutinized on the center court, Philippe Chatrier, against a player he has lost to just once in 13 encounters, Nicolas Almagro.
They should be out in a couple of hours from now, after the first center-court match pitting formerly top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, seeded fifth, against Julia Goerges of Germany.