Serena escapes as women’s seeds continue to fall in Paris

The pre-tournament shortlist of favorites for the French Open womenand’s crown continued to shrink and for a while on Thursday it looked as though top seed, Serena Williams, would also vanish.
Shortly after former world number one Caroline Wozniacki was knocked out by Julia Goerges, meaning the third, fifth and sixth seeds had all gone before round three, Williams, 33, faced unheralded 21-year-old German Anna-Lena Friedsam.
It looked like a mismatch but 105th-ranked Friedsam gave the 19-time grand slam champion a torrid time on Court Suzanne Lenglen, taking the first set before a nervy Williams recovered to scrape into the third round 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
Denmarkand’s fifth seed Wozniacki joined the exodus of leading players, which includes Romanian third seed Simona Halep, last yearand’s runner-up, and number six Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, by losing 6-4, 7-6(4) to Goerges.
Fourth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova survived her own trial, however, coming back to beat Spainand’s Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 despite 54 unforced errors.
In contrast to the women, the menand’s favorites have been largely untroubled and that continued as holder Rafa Nadal, top seed Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray reached the third round.
All eyes have been on Nadal as the Spaniard battles to rediscover his mojo and claim a record-extending 10th French Open title, but there were few weaknesses on show as he beat compatriot Nicolas Almagro with relative ease.
Nadal took his stunning Roland Garros record to 68-1 with a routine 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 victory — his fourth without dropping a set against Almagro on the Paris clay.
Djokovic needed an injury timeout when he slipped in a straight-sets win over Luxembourgand’s Gilles Muller, although he looked untroubled when shaking hands with watching Swedish soccer great Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Third seed Murray was given a fight by Portugaland’s Joao Sousa but came through 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to set up an eye-catching clash with Australiaand’s trailblazer Nick Kyrgios.
Some of the biggest cheers came elsewhere in the grounds.
On Court One, nicknamed the Bull Ring, former womenand’s champions Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova battled for three hours and 50 minutes before Italian Schiavone prevailed 6-7(11), 7-5, 10-8 having saved a match point.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman