PARIS – Roger Federer and Robin Soderling advanced to the last eight at Roland Garros on Sunday to set-up a repeat of last year’s final in the quartefinals, while Venus Willliams failed to get past the fourth round in Paris for a fourth straight year.
It was also a successful day for the Israelis in the doubles, with Andy Ram reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open for the first time in his career and Shahar Pe’er progressing to the third round.
Ram and Julian Knowle, seeded No. 10 in the event, beat Nicolas Almagro and Santiago Ventura 7-6 (4), 6-2 and will next play Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares.
“This is the first time I’ve reached the last eight in Paris and that is a small achievement for me,” Ram told The Jerusalem Post
. “I have a good connection with Knowle and we’re training well together and enjoying ourselves. Anyone can win the tournament from this stage.
“Melo and Soares are a strong team. They beat me and Yoni earlier this year. But we are trying to focus on our play. That is the key to success in doubles.”
Pe’er and Monica Niculesco surprised No. 8 seeds, Francesca Schiavone and Alisa Kleybanova 6-2, 7-6 (5) and will play No. 10 seeds, Yung-Jan Chan and Jie Zheng, in the third round.
Federer, going for a second successive title in Paris, beat Olympic doubles partner Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-2. The world No. 1 struggled with the wind at times and fell behind 4-2 in the second set, but the No. 20-seeded Wawrinka couldn’t hold the lead and missed an easy volley at 5-all in the tiebreaker.
When Wawrinka lost the set he mangled his racket, and Federer quickly pulled away after that. The defending champion has won all 12 sets so far.
“I’m happy with the way things are going,” Federer said. “I’m serving well, I’m moving well. Everything is fine.”
Soderling advanced by beating No. 10 Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Also Sunday, No. 11 Mikhail Youzhny earned his first berth in a Roland Garros quarterfinal when No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired with a leg injury trailing 6-2.
Venus Williams’ woes on the Paris clay continued after she was beaten by Russia’s Nadia Petrova, 6-4, 6-3.
Williams came into the tournament seeded No. 2 behind her sister Serena, but Petrova spoiled the possibility of a sibling showdown in the final.
The Russian controlled rallies with steady play from the baseline and finished strong, a problem for her in the past. Petrova swept the final four games and wobbled only once, shanking an overhead when leading love-30 in the final game.
Williams came into the tournament with the best record this year on the women’s tour, but tricky footing has always made clay her worst surface.
In 14 French Open appearances, she reached the semifinals only once – in 2002, when she lost to her sister in the final. She has advanced beyond the fourth round just once in the past six years.
Joining Petrova in the quarterfinals were No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 5 Elena Dementieva and No. 17 Francesca Schiavone.
Wozniacki, enjoying her best run at Roland Garros, needed three hours to beat No. 14 Flavia Pennetta 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2. No. 5 Elena Dementieva beat unseeded Chanelle Scheepers 6-1, 6-3. No. 17 Francesca Schiavone defeated No. 30 Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-4.
Justine Henin rallied in a winner-take-all set that seemed like a
final, outslugging Maria Sharapova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. The two former No. 1s
returned to center court following an overnight suspension of the
third-round showdown after two sets.
Henin and Sharapova played the seesaw final set after the match was
suspended late Saturday because of darkness. The pivotal moment came
when Henin fell behind 0-2, love-40, then overcame four break points to
She soon led 4-2, broke to go ahead 5-3 and served out the victory.
“I kept my chances to win this tournament,” said the four-time
champion, playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2007. “I
will give my best and enjoy it. It was a really good test.”
The victory extended Henin’s winning streak at Roland Garros to 24
matches. It was the first meeting between the two rivals since Henin
spent 20 months in retirement before mounting a career comeback this
year. Henin next plays No. 7 Sam Stosur.AP contributed to this report.