Nadal, S.Williams among players whose 2nd-round matches are postponed by rain at French Open

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rain forces postponements at French Open

PARIS — Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will have to wait at least another day to play their second-round matches at the French Open.

Rain has delayed the start of play at Roland Garros on Thursday for more than four hours, prompting organizers to begin postponing matches.

Six singles matches and 16 doubles matches scheduled for Thursday will not be played before Friday. Those include four-time champion Nadal against Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, and 2002 champion Williams against Julia Goerges of Germany.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

PARIS (AP) — Playing on the court nicknamed the bullring, defending French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova found herself backed into a corner facing triple match point.

An hour later, she was at the net for a handshake and into the third round.

The Russian’s great escape came Wednesday against Andrea Petkovic, who held four match points in the second set but lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

“The one thing in the world I want is to be here right now, and I want to win so badly,” the No. 6-seeded Kuznetsova said. “From here on, I move on much more confident.”

The start of play on Day 5 was delayed by rain Thursday morning. An hour after action was scheduled to begin, all courts at Roland Garros were covered by tarps. Among those players whose matches were delayed: No. 6 Andy Roddick of Austin, Texas, and No. 4 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.

On Wednesday, the defending men’s champion, Roger Federer, was slowed only by two rain delays. Unfazed, he eliminated Alejandro Falla 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4.

“This is how this game has been played for decades,” Federer said. “We’re used to walking on and off the court and being flexible about these kind of things.”

After three days of warm sunshine, conditions were damp and cool for Wednesday’s start of round two. There was a third delay of 90 minutes after Federer finished.

The weather change slowed the courts on Day 4, but No. 2-seeded Venus Williams continued to hit booming serves anyway. She topped out at 128 mph and was never broken in a win over Arantxa Parra Santonja, 6-2, 6-4.

Afterward, Williams was asked a series of questions about her lacy, black dress in the postmatch news conference. It’s the same corset-like outfit — trimmed in bright red along the bodice — that Williams wore in her first-round match, and it’s garnered more attention than her play so far.

No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki defeated Tathiana Garbin 6-3, 6-1. No. 26 Dominika Cibulkova, a semifinalist last year, rallied past American Varvara Lepchenko 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 and will next face Williams.

“I’ll continue to try to execute my game and not worry really a ton about what my opponent is doing,” Williams said.

On the men’s side, No. 5 Robin Soderling beat unseeded American Taylor Dent 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. Soderling, who upset Rafael Nadal last year and then lost to Federer in the final, has dropped only seven games through two matches.

Other winners included No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 10 Marin Cilic, No. 11 Mikhail Youzhny and 165th-ranked Julian Reister, a qualifier from Germany who plays Federer next.

Four men’s matches were suspended because of darkness. That included No. 13 Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini, who were at 5-all in the fifth set when play halted at nearly 10 p.m. Fognini wanted to stop earlier and argued so long he received a point penalty, before a hobbling Monfils erased three match points in the final game.

Petkovic, ranked 41st, was on the verge of her second career win over a top-10 player serving at 5-4, 40-love in the second set against Kuznetsova. The Russian was so upset about her circumstances she whacked herself on the thigh with her racket.

How to dig out of the hole?

“You’re in a situation where you don’t think a lot,” Kuznetsova said. “But as I remember, I put spin on the ball, so I didn’t give her easy balls. She was nervous. … I have experience, so I have to let her play. This is normally what you would do. You would not lose; you would make the other one win.”

The strategy worked. Petkovic dumped a backhand into the net, whacked an errant forehand and pulled a backhand wide for deuce. She won the next rally to reach match point again, then groaned when she put another backhand in the net.

Two points later, Kuznetsova pushed a backhand up the line for a winner to reach 5-all. She broke again to take the set and even the match.

Petkovic could have folded, and indeed she fell behind 5-2 in the final set before regaining the aggressive form she showed in the early going. Kuznetsova needed four match points of her own to close out the victory, and finally did so when the German sailed a backhand long.

“It’s sad and disappointing, but it’s OK,” Petkovic said. “It’s a good experience for me playing the defending champion here and playing a good match and seeing where I stand compared to the top players.”

Kuznetsova arrived in Paris as the only woman in the top 10 with a losing record this year. The two-time Grand Slam champion must reach the semifinals to avoid dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since April 2006, and she’s confident she can build on the comeback victory.

“I stood up there strong and I passed this round,” she said.

will not be displayed