TODAY'S FEATURED MATCHES
(World rankings in parentheses.)
Venus Williams, U.S. (3) vs. Lucie Safarova, Czech Republic (46) resumption of second-round match with Safarova leading 7-6 (5)
Absurdly, they played their first set near nightfall, in cold that felt autumnal, in a stadium so cavernous you could almost count the spectators.
Serena Williams, U.S. (2) vs. Virginia Ruano Pascal, Spain (133)
Ruano Pascal, in her 13th French Open, will try to deal with Williams despite being 35 years old. Some people are so brave.
Andy Roddick, U.S. (6) vs. Ivo Minar, Czech Republic (85)
They tucked this baby over on little Court No. 2 for late in the day, but that's not a slight. There have been times here that Roddick has wished they'd have stashed his matches into the Bois de Boulogne.
Roger Federer, Switzerland (2) vs. Jose Acasuso, Argentina (45)
Looking smooth so far, Federer continues striving to get into another final against Rafael Nadal. Some people are so brave.
Novak Djokovic, Serbia (4) vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine (110)
They held a Serbia Day on Wednesday at Roland Garros. Given the way a country of 10 million somehow spawned three semifinalists in each of the last two years, they ought to consider just holding a day of the tournament in Belgrade some year.
WEDNESDAY IN PARIS
Maria Sharapova, perhaps the best No. 102 player in history and in her first Grand Slam tournament since last Wimbledon, shooed the No. 11 player, Nadia Petrova, 6-2, 1-6, 8-6 . . . No. 1 Rafael Nadal improved to 30-0 at the French Open and advanced to the third round . . . A budding starlet, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 17, a Russian who trains near Paris, reached the third round to equal her furthest Grand Slam advance . . . The world's No. 3 player, Britain's Andy Murray, looked shakier than in the first round but clambered out of a 5-1 third-set deficit to beat Potito Starace in four . . . Nobody had pressure like No. 8 Ana Ivanovic, the defending women's champion, who won by 6-1, 6-2 over Tamarine Tanasugarn in front of her president, Serbia's Boris Tadic.
A FRENCH MORSEL
After a remarkable 20 years, a French Open career so long he played David Wheaton in 1989 and Mats Wilander in 1991, Fabrice Santoro bowed out Wednesday. He said Roland Garros had two magic places for him, including the training-center bedroom where he lived at 16 with his stereo and his small bed. "The second magic place is the corridor that takes you from the changing room to the central court," he said, "and this is where you have many memories coming to your head. You know, you walk out of the changing rooms, you turn right, you have the stairs, and you walk on the court. And when you get there, well, you have to fight. You can't hide anymore. You need to be there."
THE ENDANGERED AMERICAN MALE
After the tiny, overmatched country from across the Atlantic began this French Open with nine males and went a gutsy 2-7 in the first round -- a vast improvement over, say, the 0-9 of 2007 -- the clay-court minnow took an eighth loss Wednesday. Robert Kendrick lost to No. 7-ranked Gilles Simon of France by 7-5, 6-0, 6-1, leaving Andy Roddick to trudge on alone, and leaving Simon to note of Kendrick, via translation, "My opponent was very offensive" -- meaning aggressive -- "and then his shots were wrong quite often." It's refreshing when the masters offer tutelage to the powerless.
STAT OF THE DAY
2: Number of games No. 1 Dinara Safina has lost in two matches.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Sharapova, 22, three-time Grand Slam champion, asked what had surprised her most during her 10-month layoff for rotator-cuff surgery: "That a normal life really exists."
-- Chuck Culpepper