Serena Checks Into Paris With Win
Published Feburary 11, 2009 12:00
PARIS, France - World No.1 and part-time Parisienne Serena Williams led the charge of the seeds at the Open GDF SUEZ on Wednesday, brushing aside Iveta Benesova in straight sets. Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva had to work a bit harder for their wins, but Amélie Mauresmo routed Sara Errani, just days after the young Italian beat the two-time Grand Slam champion in Fed Cup play.
Top seed Williams, who recently bought an apartment in the French capital, fell ill after capturing the Australian Open, and told reporters she hadn't been able to practice until Monday. "I was in bed. I was really sick until I came here," she said. "It was like a week. I couldn't do anything."
Even so, the 27-year-old American recovered two break points in her first service game and proceeded to win six games in a row to take the opening set. Benesova, currently just one place off her career high ranking of No.33, offered greater resistance in the second set, but Williams ended the contest with a backhand winner down the line, 61 64.
"I wasn't great. I was so glad to win," Williams said. "As the tournament goes on, I'll do a little better.
"I feel so-so. I'm tired right now. I'd like to sleep," she added - in French.
Later, No.2 seed Jankovic had to dig deep to fight off a Francesca Schiavone still buzzing from Italy's 5-0 defeat of France on the weekend. The 23-year-old Serb won the first set on a double fault and appeared to be on course for easy passage through the second, but the feisty Italian fought back and served for it at 5-4. Recovering her form, Jankovic leveled at 5-5 and took control in the tie-break to take the match, 75 76(2).
"It's a relief to finish in two sets," said Jankovic, who faces China's Li Na in the second round on Thursday. "After the first set and 3-0, I really lost my energy and my game went down. I let my opponent come back into the match. Until then, I was completely in control.
"I'm lucky that I was somehow able to get through the second set," she added. "As a top player, when you have everything under control, you have to finish your opponent off."
As well as third seed Dementieva, who saw of France's Aravane Rezai - a lucky loser replacement for Ai Sugiyama - 64 63, Wednesday's other first round winners included No.6 seed Patty Schnyder, who edged Alona Bondarenko, 64 76(3); and eighth seed Mauresmo, who avenged Sunday's loss to Errani in the most emphatic of terms, 62 60.
French qualifier Emilie Loit also gave local fans cause for cheer with her 26 63 61 second round defeat of Estonia's Kaia Kanepi, to become the first player to move into the quarters.
Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska joined Loit in the the last eight when she finally quashed the challenge of Alisa Kleybanova in a match that lasted two hours and 28 minutes and went well past midnight. The 19-year-old Pole recovered from a set and 3-0 down to outlast her Russian opponent, 67(5) 64 62.