PARIS:Serena Williams and Francesca Schiavone have fought enough battles to know that the only thing that matters is any given day. And the travails of surviving it.
The over-30 pair gave spectators a lesson in grit, fighting it out even when it was not their best day, to make it to the third round of the French Open on Thursday. While the top-ranked Serena managed to edge past Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, Schiavone beat Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (11/13), 7-5, 10-8, in another epic battle that lasted for three hours and 50 minutes.
“I think there is still something inside me. You know, when you fight, you fight for something,” said the 34-year-old Italian, a former French Open champion but currently ranked 94 in the world. Schiavone and Kuznetsova had earlier scripted the longest Grand Slam match in women’s history. That particular match went on for four hours and 44 minutes before Schiavone clinched it 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.
“I think every match is a great history for me now,” she added. “It doesn’t matter where I am. No matter the score. Everything is a present for me now. So I’m living like this, but I’m in the third round.”
While Schiavone is very much a fading force in women’s tennis, even on clay, Serena, at the other end of the spectrum is still a favourite. But the 33-year-old American was stretched to the brink on a windy, cloudy day in the French capital by Friedsam, whose inexperience might have helped tilt the tie in Serena’s favour.
“I’m probably more frustrated than relieved, but I know I’m capable of playing great tennis, we just haven’t seen it yet,” said Serena, who is gunning for her 20th Grand Slam title.
Even so, it is Serena in the third round of the French Open. And another tough test — Victoria Azarenka — awaits her.
Round 2: Men’s singles: N Djokovic (SRB x1) bt G Muller (LUX) 6-1, 6-4, 6-4; A Murray (GBR x3) bt J Sousa (POR) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1; R Nadal (ESP x6) bt N Almagro (ESP) 6-4, 6-3, 6-1; M Cilic (CRO x9) bt A Arnaboldi (ITA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, 6-1; J Chardy (FRA) bt J Isner (USA x16) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; D Goffin (BEL x17) bt S Giraldo (COL) 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. Women’s singles: S Williams (USA x1) bt AL Friedsam (GER) 5-7, 6-3, 6-3; P Kvitova (CZE x4) bt S Soler Espinosa (ESP) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2; J Goerges (GER) bt C Wozniacki (DEN x5) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4); A Petkovic (GER x10) bt L Domínguez Lino (ESP) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; A Mitu (ROM) bt K Pliskova (CZE x12) 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4; M Keys (USA x16) bt B Bencic (SUI) 6-0, 6-3; S Errani (ITA x17) bt C Witthoeft (GER) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2; F Schiavone (ITA) bt S Kuznetsova (RUS x18) 6-7 (11/13), 7-5, 10-8.
Round 1: Mixed doubles: AL Gronefeld (GER)/JJ Rojer (NED) bt S Mirza (IND x1)/B Soares (BRA x1) 6-2, 6-2; M Hingis (SUI x8)/L Paes (IND x8) bt A Kudryavtseva (RUS)/JS Cabal (COL) 6-2, 6-3; L Hradecka (CZE)/M Matkowski (POL) bt Y Shvedova (KAZ)/R Bopanna (IND) 7-6 (7/5), 0-6, [10-3].