Nadal, SWilliams among players with matches postponed by rain at French Open

By Steven Wine, AP
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Play resumes, rain forces postponements at French

PARIS — French Open matches involving Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams were postponed Thursday before play finally began after a rain delay of 4 hours, 35 minutes.

Officials hoped to complete much of the schedule, although rain remained in the forecast for the rest of the day.

Six second-round singles matches and 16 doubles matches were postponed. Among those delayed until Friday were Nadal’s match against Horacio Zeballos, and Williams’ match against Julia Goerges.

Those still scheduled to play Thursday included four-time champion Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick.

During the delay, the players’ cafeteria and lounge areas in the main stadium were packed with players and their entourages, and there were long lines at concession stands and souvenir shops. Several hundred fans sat under umbrellas on center court watching a video replay of last year’s final between Roger Federer and Robin Soderling.

“Rain continues to fall at RG,” American doubles specialist Bob Bryan tweeted four hours into the delay. “I’m on the floor of the lockeroom in my bed of towels playing Angry Birds. Anyone have 3 stars on all levels?”

Rain came with the tournament already behind schedule following three delays Wednesday, the longest of which lasted 90 minutes. Four men’s second-round matches were suspended because of darkness Wednesday night, and four women’s matches were postponed.

The only washout of an entire day’s schedule on record at Roland Garros occurred May 30, 2000. Even so, the French tennis federation has been pushing for a roof and has studied the possibility of moving the tournament, with a site next to the Versailles castle among the locations being considered.

A project announced last year to build a new court with a retractable roof less than 500 yards from the current center court was blocked because of political issues.

Wimbledon added a retractable roof last year atop a stadium that opened in the 1920s, and the Australian Open has retractable roof over two courts. But the French and U.S. Open must wait when it rains.

On Wednesday, defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova made a great escape 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.”

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. The weather change slowed the courts, 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.

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