PARIS — Top-ranked Serena Williams avoided an early upset when she rallied from one set down to beat unheralded German Anna-Lena Friedsam 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the French Open on Thursday.

There was no such trouble for Rafael Nadal who eased into the third round of the men’s draw with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win against countryman Nicolas Almagro.

Seeking her 20th career Grand Slam title, and a third here at Roland Garros, Williams dropped her serve four times in her first ever match against Friedsam, ranked 105th.

Williams, the Australian Open champion, set up match point when she launched a huge forehand winner from the back of the court and followed that up with another big, cross-court forehand that flew out of the reach of Friedsam’s outstretched racket.

Williams’ relief was evident as she clenched her fist and let out a yell. She won here in 2013 and her other title was way back in 2002.

“I was a little bit nervous first set and I think Serena was a bit nervous, too,” Friedsam said. “I tried to focus on my serve and keep pushing on … But then Serena played a little bit better.”


Williams next faces Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, seeded 27th, after she beat Czech player Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 6-3.

Although the sixth-seeded Nadal had to save a break point in his opening service game, and was not always at his fluent best with his shot-making, he stepped up a gear in a dominant third set to secure his 13th win in 14 matches against Almagro.

Almagro showed admirable defensive qualities, saving three set points in the opening set. Nadal clinched it on serve with a crisp forehand winner and then broke Almagro at the start of the second set.

After saving two break points in the ninth game, Nadal hit two clean aces to move 5-4 ahead.

Nadal, dressed head to toe in electric blue, stood out on center court in somewhat gloomy and overcast conditions. He sealed victory in 2 hours, 19 minutes when Almagro stretched to return a powerful forehand down the line and swiped the ball out of court.

Nadal next plays Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia, who beat Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (0), 7-5.


Top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia was facing Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller later Thursday and third-seeded Andy Murray was facing Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Meanwhile, Francesca Schiavone of Italy again showed more endurance than 18th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, beating her 6-7 (11), 7-5, 10-8 in a match lasting nearly four hours to reach the third round.

At the 2011 Australian Open, she beat the Russian player in the longest women’s match, by time, in Grand Slam history — a 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 contest that lasted 4 hours, 44 minutes. Schiavone saved six match points in that match, then converted on her third match point.

It did not last quite so long this time — 3 hours, 50 minutes — but Schiavone, who is 34 years old and won the French Open in 2010, needed to save one match point at 6-5 in the third set with a brilliant backhand winner.

“For one-handed backhand to play it like that down the line, she totally went for it and all credit to her,” Kuznetsova said. “She played (an) unbelievable point.”

She sealed victory when Kuznetsova — a two-time Grand Slam champion who won here at Roland Garros in 2009 — attempted a forehand drop shot that sank into the net.


Earlier, fifth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark was knocked out after losing her second round match to Germany’s Julia Goerges in straight sets.

Wozniacki, a former No. 1 and two-time finalist at the U.S. Open, struggled throughout against the 72nd-ranked German, who won 6-4, 7-6 (4).

In the men’s side of the draw, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan became the first player to reach the second week of the tournament. He was supposed to play Benjamin Becker in the third round on Friday, but Becker pulled out of the tournament Thursday because of a muscle tear in his right shoulder.

In other men’s second-round play, U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, seeded ninth, advanced with a 7-6 (3), 6-1, 6-1 win against qualifier Andrea Arnaboldi.

Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia , who turned 19 last month, became the first teenager to reach the third round since Ernests Gulbis in 2008 after coming back from two sets down to beat 27th-seeded countryman Bernard Tomic 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 8-6.

Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, seeded 23rd, beat big-serving Jerzy Janowicz of Poland and Spaniard Pablo Andujar got the better of No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

In other women’s second-round play, Madison Keys, the 16th-seeded American, breezed into the third round after beating Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 6-0, 6-3.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic beat against Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain, while No. 10 Andrea Petkovic of Germany — a semifinalist last year — also beat another Spaniard, Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

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