Federer and Venus Williams qualify for next round

World number two Roger Federer managed to qualify for the French Open's third round after a hard battle against Argentine's Jose Acasuso. Venus Williams, the third-seed, had to save a match point. Five Frenchmen will play the next stage.


AFP - Roger Federer and Venus Williams pulled off great French Open escapes on Thursday while home hopes of a first Roland Garros men's champion in 26 years enjoyed a five-man power surge.

Second seed 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.

Acasuso, who has only progressed beyond the second round of a Grand Slam once in 28 attempts, cut a weary figure by the end, worn down as much by his own physical shortcomings as Federer's pinpoint hitting.

"I'm not in that sort of situation very often although the conditions were slow so that was in his favour," said world number two Federer.

"He looked tired to me by the end so I just tightened the game and closed him out."

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 French 32nd seed Paul-Henri Mathieu for a place in the last 16.

Mathieu saw off Spain's Pablo Andujar 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 while Marc Gicquel defeated Germany's Andreas Beck 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/3), 7-5.

But it was ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils, the 11th seed and a semi-finalist in 2008, who lifted home spirits with two dashing performances.

Tsonga defeated Argentina's Juan Monaco 7-5, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (10/8) on Suzanne Lenglen Court before Monfils confidently beat Victor Crivoi of Romania 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 just minutes later on the Philippe Chatrier court.

"That was a great win for me against a real claycourter - a serious competitor," said Tsonga.

Venus Williams, the American third seed, who was runner-up to sister Serena in 2002, saved a match point in her 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-5 win over the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova.

Safarova failed to convert her golden opportunity on her own 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.

Second seed Serena also reached the third round with a comfortable 6-2, 6-0 win over 35-year-old Virginia Ruano Pascual and will next face another Spaniard, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, for a place in the last 16.

There was a tearful and painful exit for troubled Australian Jelena Dokic who is steadily trying to rebuild her career.

The 26-year-old, playing here for the first time in five years, was heading for victory over Russian fourth seed Elena Dementieva when she was forced to retire with a crippling lower back injury when she was 6-2, 3-4 ahead.

Dokic slumped in her chair and burst into tears while Dementieva attempted to console her.

"I went for a return and I just went down and couldn't get back up," said Dokic.

"It's very painful and very disappointing because I felt as if I had the match in my hands."

Serbian fifth seed Jelena Jankovic, a semi-finalist in the last two years and who lunched with Serbian President Boris Tadic on Wednesday, 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.  

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 veteran Jill Craybas 6-1, 6-4.

In the men's event, Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko, twice a semi-finalist, and Spanish 16th seed Tommy Robredo all went through.

Sixth seed seed Andy Roddick of the United States equalled his best performance of a run to the third round in 2001 when he beat Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2).

Fourth seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic was two sets ahead of Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky when his second round match was suspended for bad light.

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