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Venus makes great escape

PARIS, May 28 – Venus Williams made a great escape into the French Open last 32 on Thursday while 13th seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli merely made an exhausting list of excuses for her second round defeat.VENUSWilliams, the American third seed, who was runner-up to sister Serena in 2002 but had exited at the third round in the last two years, saved a match point in her 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-5 win over the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova.

The Wimbledon champion had been trailing by a set when the players had been called off court late Wednesday, but she quickly levelled the tie on the resumption.

Safarova then failed to convert a match point on her own serve when 5-4 ahead in the decider and Williams made her pay by breaking the Czech before going on to set-up a third round clash with Hungary’s Agnes Szavay.

Former Wimbledon finalist Bartoli was a second round casualty losing 6-3, 7-5 to experienced Italian Tathiana Garbin.

Bartoli blamed her defeat on a host of problems, from illness to the chilly conditions to the noise made by a small contingent of Italian fans.

"I was a little tired and a little sick, I had a sore throat and my nose is running," said the Frenchwoman.

"It was very cold and the court was heavy. The ball was stuck on the strings and it was very slow."

Bartoli was unimpressed by the attitude of Garbin’s supporters.

"It’s her clan. When I made unforced errors, her team would shout. It’s not sporting. They’re Italians. This is what it’s like."

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Serbian fifth seed Jelena Jankovic, a semi-finalist in the last two years and who lunched with Serbian President Boris Tadic on Wednesday, continued her untroubled progress with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova.

Jankovic will next face Slovakian-born Jarmila Groth, who now plays for Australia.

The 24-year-old Jankovic, who won the Marbella claycourt event in the run-up to Roland Garros, believes weight loss is helping a rejuvenation of the game which took her to the world number one spot last year.

"I’m back to my normal weight. Maybe I had seven kilos more than I have now, which is a lot for me. When you put that kind of weight on, and you are not used to it, it’s tough to move around," she said.

Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2006 runner-up, also eased through to the last 32 beating Galina Voskoboeva 6-0, 6-2 while Danish 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki breezed past American veteran Jill Craybas 6-1, 6-4.

Later Thursday, second seed Roger Federer was taking on Jose Acasuso buoyed by a 3-0 career record over the world ranked 45 Argentinian while fourth seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic was facing Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Sixth seed Andy Roddick of the United States was also due on court to face Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic.

Women’s second seed Serena Williams, the 2002 champion was tackling Spain’s 35-year-old Virginia Ruano Pascual who won their only meeting 11 years ago at Wimbledon.

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