Federer, Venus struggle; Bartoli ousted

PARIS: Roger Federer and Venus William made great French Open escapes on Thursday while 13th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli merely made an exhausting list of excuses for her second round defeat.

No 2 Federer claimed a 7-6 (10/8), 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 win over Argentina’s Jose Acasuso who wasted four set points in the first set and another in the third where he led 5-1 and twice served for a two sets to one lead. Acasuso cut a weary figure by the end, worn down as much by his own physical shortcomings as Federer’s pinpoint hitting.

Federer, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal here for the past three years and still missing a French Open from his 13-title Grand Slam collection, now faces either French Paul-Henri Mathieu or Pablo Andujar of Spain for a place in the last 16.

Williams, the American third seed, who was runner-up to sister Serena in 2002, but had exited at the third round in the last two years, saved a match point in her 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-5 win over Czech Lucie Safarova. The Wimbledon champion had been trailing by a set when the players had been called off court late on Wednesday, but she levelled the tie on resumption. Safarova then failed to convert a match point on her serve when 5-4 ahead in the decider and Williams made her pay by breaking the Czech before going on to set-up a third round clash with Hungary’s Agnes Szavay.

Former Wimbledon finalist Bartoli was a second round casualty losing 6-3, 7-5 to Italian Tathiana Garbin. Bartoli blamed her defeat on a host of problems, from illness to the chilly conditions to the noise made by a small, feisty contingent of Italian fans.

Serbian fifth seed Jelena Jankovic, a semi-finalist in the last two years, feasted on the meek resistance of Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova with an easy 6-1, 6-2 win. Jankovic will next face Slovakian-born Jarmila Groth, who now plays for Australia. The 24-year-old Jankovic, who won the Marbella claycourt event in the run-up to Roland Garros, believes weight loss is helping to rejuvenate her game which took her to the world No 1 spot last year.

Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 runner-up, also eased through to the last 32 beating Galina Voskoboeva 6-0, 6-2, while Danish 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki breezed past American Jill Craybas 6-1, 6-4. In the men’s event, Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko and Spanish 16th seed Tommy Robredo all went through.