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Serbian stars go through in Paris

JELENA Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova dodged rain showers yesterday to glide into the second round of the French Open.

Jankovic's Serbian compatriot Novak Djokovic got an easy ride into the last 64 when his opponent Nicolas Lapentti hobbled off court with an ankle injury. Djokovic was leading 6-3, 3-1.

Twenty-four hours after the scorching conditions in Paris had left many players hot and bothered, temperatures had dipped by more than 15 degrees Celsius after overnight thunderstorms.

Instead of using her official red and white towel to wipe the sweat off her face, Jankovic used it as a blanket around her shoulders during the changeovers and seemed relieved when she could get back into the warmth of the locker room with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Czech Petra Cetkovska.

"I felt a little bit slow after the rain delay when I came back on court again. But I managed to finish the job in two sets, so I'm happy," said the fifth seed, a semifinalist at Roland Garros in 2008.

Like Jankovic, Russian Kuznetsova, the seventh seed, also had to endure a two-hour rain break during the first set but she made sure she did not slip up on resumption and bamboozled French wildcard Claire Feuerstein 6-1, 6-4.

Jankovic dominated her opponent before the two-hour rain delay, and then did well enough after it to advance.

The Serb was leading 4-1 when the rain started at Roland Garros. She quickly closed out the first set when play resumed and continued to play well on Cetkovska's serve in the second but was broken twice on her own.

Fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina had little trouble in his opening match at Roland Garros, beating Michael Llodra of France 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Del Potro won four straight ATP titles last year, the first two on clay.

No. 27 Rainer Schuettler of Germany narrowly avoided a "triple bagel" after being shut out in the first two sets of a 0-6, 0-6, 4-6 loss to Marc Gicquel of France.

Last Friday, Schuettler lost to Robin Soderling 0-6, 0-6 at the ATP World Team Championship in Duesseldorf, Germany.

"A 'double bagel' is fine," said Schuettler, who reached the semifinals at last year's Wimbledon. "I had one last week. It's nothing new."

Gicquel was unapologetic about the thrashing.

"I didn't come here to sympathize," said the Frenchman, who was trying to win the third set at love as well. "If I tried to give him one or two games, then everything could be overturned against me."

Djokovic could, however, sympathize with the plight of Ecuador's Lapentti's since the Serb's last grand slam appearance had ended with his own retirement.

Four months after Djokovic threw in the towel in the Australian Open quarterfinals, the Serb looked concerned when Lapentti went over on his left ankle while trailing 2-5 in the opening set.

Grimacing in pain, Lapentti called on the tournament trainer to strap up the ankle but after limping around court for another six games, the 32-year-old called it quits.

No. 11 Gael Monfils of France also advanced, easily beating Bobby Reynolds of the United States 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 despite being hampered by an injury to his left knee.


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