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Latest update : 2010-05-28

Top seed Serena Williams (photo) powered her way into round three of the French Open Friday for the loss of just two games. Elsewhere, Venus Williams eased into the fourth round, while Justine Henin set up an intriguing clash with Maria Sharapova.

AFP - Venus Williams led the charge into the fourth round at the French Open on Friday, after four-time champion Justine Henin had set up a headline-grabbing clash with Maria Sharapova.

With unbroken sunshine replacing the rain and gloom of the previous two days, second seed Williams was the first woman to reach the last 16 following a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Slovakian 26th seed Dominika Cibulkova.

The American will face either rising French star Aravane Rezai, the 15th seed, or Russian 19th seed Nadia Petrova for a quarter-final berth.

"Right now I've been doing pretty well; moving well, serving well and playing the closer points well, so that feels good," said Williams.

"Also I've been fortunate enough not to get caught up in the rain. I don't really know how that happened."

Williams and Cibulkova exchanged breaks of serve midway through the first set before the Slovakian double-faulted to hand her opponent a second break that was quickly followed by the set.

A netted backhand from Cibulkova gave Williams a break and a 4-3 lead in the second set and she needed no second invitation to seal her place in the next round.

The day's early matches involved players completing second-round ties held over from Thursday's washout, with Henin finishing off a straightforward 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Czech Klara Zakopalova.

"Playing again in front of the Paris crowd and all the Belgian supporters warms my heart," said Henin, who returned to the sport earlier this year after retiring in 2008 and whose last visit to Roland Garros in 2007 saw her claim her fourth title.

"I've missed it and the sensations are coming back bit by bit."

Sharapova, the 12th seed and former world number one, now bars Henin's route to a fifth title after she a completed 6-3, 6-3 win over Henin's Belgian compatriot Kirsten Flipkens.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Sharapova of her third-round meeting with Henin, against whom she trails 6-3 in head-to-head career matches.

"We've had some great matches in the past. We've had some battles and I've had some tough losses and some great wins, so I look forward to this one."

Earlier, top seed Serena Williams demolished German world number 77 Julia Goerges 6-1, 6-1 in just 55 minutes and will face Russian 29th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a place in the fourth round.

Asked what she could possibly learn from such a comfortable win, Serena replied: "I can learn a lot, like 'What am I doing today? Why aren't all my matches like this and what can I do to make them like that?'

"Those are the questions I ask myself and that I have to try to answer."

In other delayed second-round matches, Chinese 25th seed Zheng Jie was upset 6-4, 6-3 by Russian qualifier Anastasia Pivovarova and 13th seed Marion Bartoli saw off fellow Frenchwoman Olivia Sanchez 7-5, 6-2.

Later on Friday, third seed Caroline Wozniacki takes on Romanian 31st seed Alexandra Dulgheru, who triumphed in Warsaw last week.

Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and fellow Russian Elena Dementieva are also in third-round action, with Kuzentsova meeting number 30 seed Maria Kirilenko and fifth seed Dementieva tackling Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.


Date created : 2010-05-28


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