Federer, Nadal, Sharapova, Serena advance at French Open
PARIS (AP) -- Rafael Nadal came from behind for the second match in a row on a busy Friday at the French Open, surviving another shaky start to beat Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
Entering the tournament, seven-time champion Nadal had lost only 14 sets in 53 matches at the French Open. Now he has dropped the opening set in each of the first two rounds.
Last year, Nadal lost one set in the entire tournament en route to a record seventh Roland Garros title.
No. 2-seeded Roger Federer was broken in the opening game but held the rest of the way and eased into the fourth round by beating No. 30 Julien Benneteau of France, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.
Top-ranked Serena Williams also advanced to the round of 16, and defending champion Maria Sharapova won a rain-interrupted match to reach the third round.
Nadal, forced to wait a day to play because of rain, lost serve four times and needed nearly three hours to reach the third round. When Klizan's final shot sailed out, Nadal gave the cheering crowd a relieved thumbs-up and managed a weak smile.
"I started a bit too defensive," he said. "I improved a little bit during the match."
Nadal also lost the first set of his opening match against Daniel Brands and was down 3-love in the second-set tiebreaker before he rallied.
The Spaniard, now 54-1 at the French Open, seeks to become first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam event. Since returning in February from a seven-month layoff because of knee trouble, he's 38-2, reaching the finals at all eight tournaments he has entered and winning six.
No. 12 Tommy Haas became the first 35-year-old since 2007 to reach the French Open's third round, beating 20-year-old American qualifier Jack Sock 7-6 (3), 6-2, 7-5.
Haas next plays No. 19 John Isner, who overcame a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to win an all-American match against Ryan Harrison, 5-7, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-1, 8-6.
Federer hit 31 winners to eliminated Benneteau, who had won when they played at Rotterdam in February. Federer seeks a record 18th Grand Slam title, and his first since Wimbledon last year.
Williams, seeking her first French Open title since 2002, beat Sorana Cirstea 6-0, 6-2 and has lost only six games in three matches. Williams swung hard, as always, but committed only 16 unforced errors and extended her career-best winning streak to 27 matches.
"I play very aggressive," she said. "That's important for me, because I want to keep on winning here."
Sharapova needed only 15 minutes to close out a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard. The match was suspended on Thursday night with Sharapova up a break in the second set at 4-2, and she was relieved to finish.
"It was such a long day yesterday, and obviously it's always difficult to have to come back," Sharapova said.
No. 12-seeded Maria Kirilenko defeated wild card Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 6-1. No. 13 Marion Bartoli of France delighted a partisan crowd on center court by beating qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino 7-6 (5), 7-5.
No. 4 David Ferrer reached the fourth round by beating fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 7-5, 6-4. No. 7 Richard Gasquet of France swept qualifier Michal Przysiezny 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.
Nadal won his 17th match in a row, but it's clear another Roland Garros title won't come easily. Because of the rain delay, he must win six matches in the final 10 days of the tournament to reclaim the trophy.
With an 11 a.m. start on another chilly, damp day in Paris, fans were late arriving at Court Suzanne Lenglen, and it took Nadal a while to get going, too.
The match was his first against the left-handed Klizan, which may have been a factor, and the slender Slovak's aggressive strokes from the baseline quickly made an impression.
"Wow," Nadal exclaimed after one winner by Klizan whizzed past.
Nadal's shots lacked their usual depth and sting at the outset, and he pushed a forehand wide at the end of a long rally to lose serve for the first time.
Klizan served out the set before Nadal gained a foothold, racing to a 4-0 lead in the second set.
Nadal swept the final eight points of the third set to take command. His groundstrokes started landing beyond the service line more consistently, and dogged defense helped bail him out.
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