Is Venus Williams done as a Grand Slam winner?
The elder Williams sister has cleaned up at the smaller events in 2009, propelling her to the No. 3 ranking, but on Friday she following her second-round loss at the Australian Open with a third-round exit at the French Open, dominated 6-0, 6-4 by No. 29 seed Agnes Szavay.
“I had a tough day, and I didn’t get the ball in the court, and that didn’t help me at all,” Williams said. “I’m used to beating people 6-0. I’m not used to my shots not going in and losing a set 6-0. So it was completely foreign ground for me. I had a lot of struggles out there and you’ve got to play well. Today it just didn’t come together for me.”
The former Top 15-ranked Szavay could hardly believe her fortune against the former No. 1.
“I just kept playing my game and always concentrated on the next point, then I realized I had match point,” Szavay said. “I started to think, ‘Oh my God, I have match point against Venus.’ But suddenly it was over and I won the match.”
It had to be little consolation for the elder Williams when she saw herself on the latest cover of the American TENNIS magazine, touted as a favorite for Wimbledon.
Venus has never won the French, losing to sister Serena in the 2002 final. It was her third consecutive loss in the third round.
Last year’s finalists, world No. 1 Dinara Safina and former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, has little trouble on Friday. Safina spanked fellow Russian and No. 27 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-0, and Ivanovic looked to be regaining her title-winning form of last year, beating No. 32 seed Iveta Benesova 6-0, 6-2.
“We had a few very tough games at the start but when I broke her I started playing much more aggressively, and then I was dominating,” Safina said. “If I don’t, the other player will take their chances and it’ll be 50-50. But if I am I know it’s not easy to handle my level.”
Other third-round winners on Friday were No. 20 seed Dominika Cibulkova, No. 25 seed Li Na, and unseeded former No. 1 Maria Sharapova who posted another comeback win, this time against qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“I dug a nice pothole for myself there,” Sharapova said. “That’s kind of what I’ve been doing the last few rounds. I got rid of all of those errors and started playing better. Even if I’m playing horribly in the beginning of the match, I know it’s not over ’til it’s over. I’ve given myself a chance to play another match. That’s the only thing I can ask for now.”
Hightlights of Saturday play on a slow day at Roland Garros is (4) Elena Dementieva vs. (30) Sam Stosur, Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez vs. (2) Serena Williams, and upset specialist Sorana Cirstea vs. (10) Caroline Wozniacki.
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