The Williams sisters are old (in tennis terms), injured (Serena always), sick (Venus), tired (Venus), and out of shape (Serena). And after two rounds of play they’re both out of the 2012 French Open.
Following Serena’s first-ever first round exit at a Grand Slam on Tuesday at the hands of French journeywoman Virginie Razzano, Venus followed-up on Wednesday by losing in the second round 6-2, 6-3 to No. 3 seed Aggie Radwanska.
The seven-time Slam winner Venus has been working at a tour comeback ever since announcing at last year’s US Open that she was suffering from the fatigue-producing Sjogren’s syndrome. The 2012 French Open was her first Slam attempt since then.
“This is just the beginning for me,” said Venus, happy to be on the court again, and working toward a rankings eligibility to play the Olympics for the U.S. “Again. I have to be positive when I walk out on the court. I’m not playing under ideal circumstances but at the moment it’s about improving Olympic chances so I’ll deal with this somehow.”
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who struggled mightily in her first match, on Wednesday rolled over German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1 6-1.
“I never knew her before but I had to do a little bit of research yesterday, and I do remember her name — it’s just a little bit difficult to pronounce,” Azarenka said.
Other Top 10 results were No. 6 Samantha Stosur beating American Irina Falconi 6-1, 6-4, and Croatian Petra Martic upsetting No. 8 Marion Bartoli in three sets.
“It’s still only the third round and there is a long way to go yet before you are holding the trophy,” said Stosur, who will next meet Russian veteran Nadia Petrova.
Venus Williams’ trip-up was part of American women putting in a dreadful 1-6 win-loss on Wednesday. Former US Open darling Melanie Oudin was part of the carnage, thumped 6-2, 6-3 by Sara Errani.
“She’s definitely one of the best grinders on the clay, for sure,” Oudin said. “So it’s not a great match-up for me. But I think after being down 5-0 in the first set, I started playing much better. I’m still trying to get back, and definitely it was good to see how I matched up against her.”
Other Americans sent home Wednesday, all in straight sets, were qualifier Alexa Glatch losing to No. 18 Flavia Pennetta, and Vania King beaten by No. 15 Dominika Cibulkova.
The lone U.S. winner was Sloane Stephens, who beat fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands of 6-1, 6-1.
Other players on the upset tip were Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez knocking out No. 20 Lucie Safarova, Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson toppling No. 24 Petra Cetkovska, and Canuck Aleksandra Wozniak rolling over No. 31 Zheng Jie.
Women’s highlights on Thursday are slim pickings with (2) Maria Sharapova vs. Ayumi Morita, Serena-killer Virginie Razzano vs. former world No. 1 junior Arantxa Rus, Brit comer Heather Watson vs. (25) Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, and an all-American battle in Christina McHale vs. Lauren Davis.
On the men’s side Wednesday there were no seeded upsets, but No. 11-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon was stretched to the limit by American feel-good story Brian Baker. Simon won the first two sets before Baker evened the match at two sets all, but Simon ran away with the fifth set 6-0.
“Of course, I was feeling it in the body,” Baker said of the fifth set. “But it was more a case of me playing a couple of bad points in the first two games of the set. I was a little more nervous, being one set away from winning, and I tried to end a couple of points too soon.”
Top 10 seeds in action were No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeating Slovenian Blaz Kavcic in straights, No. 3 Roger Federer beating Romanian Jan Unger in four, No. 7 Tomas Berdych stopping Frenchman Michael Llodra in straights, and No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro beating Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin in four sets.
“Instead of being aggressive I let him show me what he could do,” Federer said of his match. “He played two beautiful shots and he played very well.”
Djokovic won the first set 6-0 before his opponent worked his way into the match.
“I stopped,” Djokovic said. “I gave him the opportunity to come back into the match after a perfect first seven games.”
In other notable seeded matches, No. 14 Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco defeated Gilles Muller after dropping the first set, and No. 21 Marin Cilic beat former French Open champ Juan Carlos Ferrero in straights.
Thursday highlights at Roland Garros include (4) Andy Murray vs. Jarkko Nieminen, (10) John Isner vs. French homeboy Paul-Henri Mathieu, (2) Rafa Nadal vs. Denis Istomin, (7) Richard Gasquet vs. future star pick Grigor Dimitrov, Marcos Baghdatis vs. (12) Nicolas Almagro, (8) Janko Tipsarevic vs. French homeboy Jeremy Chardy, American scrapper Jesse Levine vs. (19) Milos Raonic, and former world No. 2 Tommy Haas vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Only two American men remain, both from the SEC: Jesse Levine and John Isner…Canadian-born Jesse Levine plays Canadian Milos Raonic who was born in Montenegro…For the first time both Williams sisters failed to reach the third round…Ayumi Morita is 0-13 career against Top 10 players, she plays Maria Sharapova…Aga Radwanska could be ranked No. 1 on the WTA computer a week from Monday…Gilles Simon has never lost to an American at the French Open (7-0)… Li Na has won 8 straight matches at Roland Garros…Roger Federer now leads every man in history with 234 career Grand Slam singles match wins…2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone is just two wins shy of 500 total WTA victories…The last time there were no American men in the 3rd round at the French Open was in 2007…Paul-Henri Mathieu won the French Open junior title in 2000…Brian Baker will rise into the Top 130 in the next ATP Rankings.
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start Time
1. Men’s Singles – 2nd Round
Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) v. Andy Murray (GBR)
2. Women’s Singles – 2nd Round
Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) v. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
3. Men’s Singles – 2nd Round
Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) v. John Isner (USA)
4. Women’s Singles – 2nd Round
Ayumi Morita (JPN) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start Time
1. Women’s Singles – 2nd Round
Urszula Radwanska (POL) v. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Not Before:12:00 PM
2. Men’s Singles – 2nd Round
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
To Finish 2-6 6-4 1-1
3. Men’s Singles – 2nd Round
Denis Istomin (UZB) v. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
4. Women’s Singles – 2nd Round
Na Li (CHN) v. Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA)
5. Men’s Singles – 2nd Round
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) v. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
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