National Sports Briefs
PARIS ó Venus Williams was cruising along with a ho-hum 6-3, 4-1 lead over her 35-year-old opponent at the French Open on Monday when suddenly everything went awry.
The double-faults piled up. The forehand errors did, too, and Williams lost six consecutive games to fall behind as a drizzle fell. The crowd was rooting for the underdog, applauding in unison every time 93rd-ranked Tzipora Obziler of Israel earned a point.
When the No. 8-seeded Williams would hit a winner, the sounds of approval emanated mainly from her personal guests. “Whooo!” one of her sisters kept yelling.
“I told the people in our box, ‘Be quiet, so she can concentrate,’ ” said Williams’ father and coach, Richard. “Venus is a great thinker and a great player. I wasn’t nervous at all.”
Eventually, six-time major champion Williams did manage to turn things back around quickly enough to pull out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Obziler and reach the second round at Roland Garros before the rain grew heavier.
“I’m glad at the end that I figured it out,” Williams said.
Three-time defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal was supposed to follow her on center court, but his match never began. Among those who did play Monday was No. 1 Roger Federer, who wasn’t tested much in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sam Querrey of the United States.
“You never think you’re going to be the guy that’s going to draw him when the draw comes out,” the 40th-ranked Querrey said. “But someone has to.”
The day’s most significant upset was produced by another American, 106th-ranked Wayne Odesnik, who beat No. 29 Guillermo Canas of Argentina 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8). The match lasted the minimum number of sets yet took 3 hours, 46 minutes.
“There’s not too much to say. I think he played well,” said Canas, who’s lost his past six matches, all on clay. “I didn’t play well at all.”
The only other seeded man to exit on Day 2 was No. 17 Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open runner-up, who lost to Simone Bolelli of Italy.