ROME, May 6 – World number two Serena Williams was stunned by Patty Schnyder as the American crashed out of the second round of the WTA Rome claycourt International 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 on Tuesday.Apart from an improved second set, Australian Open champion Serena was lethargic throughout the match and at times moved uncomfortably.
The game did not finish until 1am local time and there was a strange and subdued atmosphere, although the Swiss world number 20 at least managed to lift herself enough to see off her poor opponent.
Earlier world number one Dinara Safina blasted organisers for making her play on a treacherous court as she reached the third round.
The Russian was initially made to work hard before coming through 7-6 (7/1), 6-1 against France’s Virginie Razzano.
Double reigning champion Jelena Jankovic was pushed to the brink by Argentine Gisela Dulko before going through 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) after her match had been delayed for three and a half hours by a torrential downpour.
But Safina, whose match started after the rain, complained that the weather had made the courts too soft and dangerous as it was difficult to slide.
"I was just so angry because you can get injured," said Safina, who fell over twice during her match.
"I mean, it’s not funny. They tell us go and play because they think the court is fine but they are not playing on that court.
"Thank God I didn’t break anything but if I broke something, I mean, so many players get injured."
Safina struggled throughout the first set, dropping serve in the first and seventh games but breaking straight back on both occasions.
However, once she entered the tie-break it was a different matter as she took total command.
She sealed the tie-break 7-1 with a service winner and then romped through the second set for the loss of only one game.
The top seed will play Chinese 14th seed Zheng Jie in the 3rd round after she defeated Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2.
Third seed Jankovic was far from her best and was forced to stay on court for almost two hours by a dogged opponent who had been a first round loser here in four out of five previous appearances.
The Serbian, the world number four, ultimately gained revenge on Dulko, who beat her in the second round in Miami last month.
But Jankovic was disappointed she had not wrapped up the match earlier having been up a break in the second.
"I just let her come back into the match. I was angry at myself because I was thinking that I should have already finished this match," she said.
"It was very difficult for me because I let her come back and she almost won that second set because I made mistakes and I kind of stopped playing.
"I had everything under control and all of a sudden she’s on top of me and she has set points to win the second set."
The Serbian, a former world number one, will meet Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko next after she despatched last year’s runner-up Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 6-1 in the only match to be completed before the rain.
Jankovic had looked likely to head into that delay at a set all but she saved four set points on her own serve at 5-4 in the second before the heavens opened.
She had been largely in control of the match in the beginning, taking the first set 6-3 and breaking in the opening game of the second.
But from 4-2 down Dulko won three straight games and had four set points on Jankovic’s serve but could not capitalise, often hampered by too many unforced errors off both wings.
When the second set went to a tie-break, Jankovic looked set to run away with it after two fortunate net-cords went her way to give her two mini-breaks and help her secure four match points at 6-2.
But Dulko kept fighting and some wild groundstrokes from Jankovic saw her pinned back to 6-6 before two more Dulko unforced errors sealed the world number 34’s fate.
There were no troubles for fifth seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia who beat home hope Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4.