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Williams sisters out

PARIS -- It will go down as the worst tennis day in the history of the Williams family, a French flop of monumental proportions with first Serena and then Venus losing in straight sets in the first week of a Grand Slam.

PARIS -- It will go down as the worst tennis day in the history of the Williams family, a French flop of monumental proportions with first Serena and then Venus losing in straight sets in the first week of a Grand Slam.

Only one other time at a Slam had both lost on the same day -- at the 2004 French Open, where Serena was beaten in three sets by Jennifer Capriati and Venus was defeated in two by Anastasia Myskina.

But that was the quarterfinals. This was the third round, and neither won a set this time.

Serena was subdued and surprisingly conciliatory Friday after Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia won, 6-4, 6-4.

Then, just as darkness was setting in, Italy's Flavia Pennetta got a short forehand and slammed it into the open court to send Venus down, 7-5, 6-3.


What irony. It was the U.S. men who were shut out in the first round here a year ago and who arrived in Paris determined to do better. They still have Robby Ginepri, who plays today, in the draw.

Yet for the first time in the Open Era, no U.S. woman has reached the fourth round at Roland Garros. Furthermore, it has been 35 years since American women failed to place a player in the fourth round of any Slam, and that record is qualified by the fact that no American woman entered the 1973 Australian Open.

It was a frenetic day with people who could not obtain tickets for either the Suzanne Lenglen court, where Serena played, or the Philippe Chatrier court, where Venus lost, crowding into the plaza to watch on the outdoor TV screen.

They saw no other significant upsets on this warm afternoon, though No. 1 Maria Sharapova was again stretched to three sets, this time by Bethanie Mattek. Sharapova's 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory boosted her into the third round against Karin Knapp of Italy.

Second-seeded Ana Ivanovic easily defeated Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 6-1, in the lower half of the draw to reach the round of 16 against Petra Cetkovska. Other key winners were No. 10 Patty Schnyder, No. 11 Vera Zvonareva and No. 14 Agnieszka Radwanska.

Third-seeded Jelena Jankovic was leading 7-5, 4-2 over Dominika Cibulkova when darkness threw her third-round match into suspension. It will be finished today.

While Venus Williams' loss was surprising, it was hardly a shock. She was only 13-6 for the year with her best effort a semifinal loss to her sister at a minor tournament in Banlore, India.

Serena's defeat, however, was perplexing. She came to Roland Garros with 23 wins in 25 matches, and though she pulled out of a quarterfinal match in Rome two weeks ago with a bad back, she seemed recovered.


Srebotnik, a veteran and experienced player who has been as high as No. 24, had one of her better efforts. But she got a lot of help from Williams, whose drop shots were atrocious and whose play inside the service line was equally poor.

It was left to Venus to sum up the two losses.

"It just wasn't a good day for our family today. But we always learn and get more determined after our losses."

U.S. men thinning

As for the men, the French Open is over for Wayne Odesnik of Weston, Fla., but not before he won two rounds, let the rest of the ATP tour know he's going to be a force in the months to come and earned a rousing cheer from fans who thought someone finally had challenged Novak Djokovic's annoyingly long series of pre-serve ball bounces.

"No, no. It was nothing. I just said, 'Hold on, I need some time,'" said Odesnik as he explained why, on the final point of the second set, he suddenly turned his back on Djokovic and retreated to the back curtain.

Five, six, seven . . . 11, 12, 13 . . . 16, 17, 18. Djokovic bends over before serving and begins bouncing the ball, sometimes for as long as 15 to 20 seconds before making his service toss.

No matter. Odesnik lost that point, the set and the third-round match 7-5, 6-4, 6-2, ending a six-day run in which he picked up 75 rankings points that will push him from No. 106 to approximately 85 when the new rankings come out a week from Monday.


A few hours before Djokovic recovered from three service breaks to dust Odesnik, three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal demolished his third consecutive lefty, Jarko Nieminen, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. He now has won 24 consecutive French Open matches without a loss.

Djokovic, seeded third, was accompanied into the round of 16 by No. 10 Paul-Henri Mathieu, No. 19 Nicolas Almagro, No. 22 Fernando Verdasco and unseeded Ernests Gulbis, Michael Llodra and Jeremy Chardy.

Serra reached the third round by defeating Victor Hanescu in a match called Thursday because of darkness. In another Thursday suspension, Julien Benneteau defeated Alejandro Falla.

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