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Venus left out in cold

Second-seeded Venus Williams, not thrilled with the weather, returns a shot during her 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 19 Nadia Petrova.

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Second-seeded Venus Williams, not thrilled with the weather, returns a shot during her 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 19 Nadia Petrova.

PARIS — So much for this being the year Venus Williams would make a strong showing at the French Open.

Displaying little of the spark or strokes she regularly produces on hardcourts and grass, Williams stalled on the red clay of Roland Garros yet again Sunday, exiting in the fourth round with a 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 19 Nadia Petrova.

"I don't think the conditions are always ideal here. … You might not be used to it, or you might not get a good bounce," said the second-seeded Williams, who began the day 29-4 this season, including 15-2 on clay. "That's just the way this tournament goes."

The American has seven major titles, but only once has she made it to the final in 14 French Open appearances — in 2002, she lost to sister Serena.

Williams complained about the temperatures in the 50s and swirling winds that reached 15 mph, and she wore a long-sleeved top. She didn't heap praise on Petrova, either.

"I don't think she did anything super special," Williams said, "but she just played a little bit more consistently."

Petrova concurred with that assessment.

"I came up with the good shots when it was necessary," she said. "That's it. I don't think I've done anything spectacular (Sunday)."

Petrova faces No. 5 Elena Dementieva, who rolled past 131st-ranked qualifier Chanelle Scheepers 6-1, 6-3.

The third-round match between four-time champion Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova resumed after being suspended because of darkness.

Sharapova began the third set strongly, but Henin began playing more aggressively and swung the momentum, taking four consecutive games on the way to winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, her 24th consecutive victory at the French Open.

Henin must play for the fifth day in a row, today against No. 7 Samantha Stosur.

"I know it's going to be difficult," Henin said.

In men's action, there was a mild upset: No. 15 Tomas Berdych beat No. 4 Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 to reach the French Open quarterfinals for the first time. Berdych faces No. 11 Mikhail Youzhny, who advanced when No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga quit with a hip injury.

Defending champion Roger Federer won in straight sets for the fourth consecutive round, dismissing No. 20 Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

So does Federer wish he'd faced more adversity?

While acknowledging a test can have "its advantages," he said: "As long as you come through, I always say, it's a great tournament. I'm playing really well at the moment, so I'm very happy where my game is."

That could be bad news for No. 5 Robin Soderling, who is 0-12 against Federer.

"Obviously, that's a good record to have," Federer said. "But because of the improvements he's made, he's an opponent not to underestimate."

Fast facts

Today's top matches

Men: No. 2 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 24 Thomaz Bellucci, No. 3 Novak Djokovic vs. Robby Ginepri, No. 7 Fernando Verdasco vs. No. 19 Nicolas Almagro

Women: No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 18 Shahar Peer, No. 4 Jelena Jankovic vs. No. 23 Daniela Hantuchova, No. 7 Samantha Stosur vs. No. 22 Justine Henin

TV: 5 a.m., Tennis Channel; noon, ESPN2, ESPND

Venus left out in cold 05/30/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 30, 2010 8:23pm]
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