Venus Williams advances in French open

Venus Williams' latest French Open victory ranked with her most impressive. She beat darkness.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Venus Williams' latest French Open victory ranked with her most impressive. She beat darkness. Few saw it, because the centre-court stadium was nearly deserted on a cold, damp evening by the time Williams finished off Emma Laine of Finland 7-6 (2), 6-2 at 9:48 p.m. The match was on the verge of being suspended until Thursday. Instead, Williams earned a day off and a berth in the third round. "It was pretty dark. I was thinking maybe they were going to stop the match. I was so happy they let it go," said Williams. Weather played havoc with the schedule on the fourth day of the tournament. Top-ranked Roger Federer endured two rain delays that lasted longer than his match, which he won. Germany's Nicolas Kiefer needed seven hours, rain interruptions included, to beat France's Marc Gicquel 6-0, 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 11-9. Maria Sharapova and Amelie Mauresmo also won, as did David Nalbandian and former champions Gaston Gaudio, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya. With the stands mostly empty, Williams' father, Richard, was easy to spot sitting in a courtside corner. "There weren't a lot of people. But the fans that were there, I felt like they were ready for a match because they were good enough to stay and watch it," said Williams. Williams performance The subdued atmosphere may have contributed to a sluggish start by Williams, who committed the match's first 10 unforced errors and trailed 4-0 after 16 minutes. "It's nice to have moments of truth like that early on in the tournament,'' she said. Williams rallied and saved her best tennis for the tiebreaker, which included a lunging volley for a winner, which even Laine applauded. Williams lost in the opening round at the Australian Open, then spent three and half months on the sidelines nursing injuries and has played only 11 matches this year. But the five-time Grand Slam champion is always a title threat, and she's driven by the chance to win her first French Open title in her 10th try. After hitting 38 winners against Laine, Williams offered an assessment, which should sound ominous to the rest of the field. Heated arguments The cold day's most heated moment came on cozy Court 6 after number 12 Mario Ancic beat Paul Capdeville of Chile. Meeting at the net, Ancic indicated he was annoyed by Capdeville's repeated complaints about calls. Capdeville said he thought Ancic lunged at him and responded by pushing Ancic. "The chair umpire favored him all the way. I was just criticizing the chair umpire, so I don't understand why (Ancic) reacted this way,'' said Capdeville. Ancic declined to comment. (AP)