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Soderling, Venus march on

PARIS, May 26 – Robin Soderling, the 2009 runner-up, took just 71 super-charged minutes to sweep aside hapless American Taylor Dent on Wednesday to reach the French Open last 32.The Swedish fifth seed, who famously handed Rafael Nadal a first career defeat here last year, crushed Dent 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 and will next face Spain’s Albert Montanes.

"I didn’t expect to win so easily in the second round of a Grand Slam. I can’t remember playing such a short match," said the 25-year-old Swede, who lost just five games in his opening round.

"But you have to keep your focus because a match can change very quickly."

Soderling’s quickfire victory equalled the 71 minutes it took Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber to beat Australia’s Bernard Tomic 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 last year.

The shortest match remains the 1970 final when Jan Kodes defeated Zeljko Franulovic in 68 minutes.

The 29-year-old Dent was humiliated on Court Suzanne Lenglen, never recovering from winning just seven points in the first set, which also saw his service broken three times.

After winning a paltry two games in all, the American, playing in Paris for the first time since 2004, was finally put out of his misery after an hour and 11 minutes.

That was 25 minutes less than it took women’s world number two Venus Williams to make the last 32 with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Spain’s Arantxa Parra Santonja.

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The American second seed will play either Slovakian 26th seed Dominika Cibulkova or America’s Varvara Lepchenko
© AFP Jacques Demarthon
Williams, the runner-up to sister Serena in 2002, next plays Slovakian 26th seed Dominika Cibulkova, who made the semi-finals in 2009.

"She played very well last year," said Williams. "But I will just try to execute my game plan and not worry a ton about what my opponent is doing."

Like Soderling, men’s eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was also in a hurry, taking just 79 minutes to clinch a 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 win over French compatriot and childhood friend Josselin Ouanna.

"I would rather have played somebody else, but that’s the way it is," said 25-year-old Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up.

"I knew I had to start with intensity and grab him by the throat."

Tsonga will face either Spanish number 32 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker in the next round.

Also progressing to the third round were Croatian 10th seed Marin Cilic, 11th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny and Albert Montanes, the 29th seeded Spaniard, who defeated Roger Federer on his way to the Estoril title in April. Later Wednesday, defending champion Federer takes on Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, the world number 70, who he has beaten twice in his career without dropping a set.

Top seed Federer, chasing a 17th Grand Slam title, defeated Falla at the same stage of Roland Garros in 2006.

British fourth seed Andy Murray, who escaped a five-set thriller to defeat Richard Gasquet in the first round, faces gritty clay-courter Juan Ignacio Chela, one year after defeating the Argentine in the first round here.

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Murray has won their last five meetings without dropping a set, including the second round in Madrid two weeks ago.

Women’s third seed Caroline Wozniacki tackles experienced Italian Tathiana Garbin, who famously put out Justine Henin in the second round in 2004.

Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the fifth seed, takes on Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.


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