The Williams sisters both made it into round three of the French Open today - but in very contrasting styles.
While Serena, the second seed, found some welcome form on clay to rout Spain’s Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-2 6-0 in 57 minutes, Venus rallied from match point down to defeat Lucie Safarova in a three-set thriller.
Venus resumed a set down from last night and comfortably took the second, but found herself in real danger in the third on Suzanne Lenglen court.
A backhand winner saved her skin on match point and she went on to complete a 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 7-5 victory after two hours and 30 minutes.
“She served very well and didn’t give me a lot of points,” said Venus, who next plays 29th seed Agnes Szavay.
“It was one of those matches that feels really good to win because the level of play was so high.
“I feel very good. I’ve played two players who really brought their ’A’ game and were attacking. To come through is really good.”
Serena’s display was a far cry from the one she produced in round one against world number 100 Klara Zakopalova.
On that occasion, Williams recovered from going 2-1 down in the deciding set and needed nine match points to eventually take victory.
Ruano Pascual, who can be found even further down the rankings in 133rd, was much more accommodating, the younger Williams breaking twice in the first set and three times in the second to clinch a third-round meeting with Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
“Everything clicked for me today, finally,” she said. “I’m not nearly as upset as I was the other day.”
Earlier, title contenders Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova eased into round three with straight-sets wins.
Fifth seed Jankovic, semi-finalist here for the past two years, thrashed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-2.
“I think I’m coming back,” said the Serbian, who dropped just five games against Petra Cetkovska in round one.
“When you see how I was playing a few months ago, it was really disastrous. I wasn’t moving well, I was making so many errors, my game was completely off, as well as my confidence.
“Now I think I’m on the right track. I want to get back into the spotlight. I haven’t played great tennis since the end of last year.”
Seventh seed Kuznetsova was equally as impressive, the 2006 finalist from Russia thrashing Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva 6-0 6-2 on Court Two.
In the day’s late match, former world number four Jelena Dokic was forced to retire with a back injury when she was a set up against fourth seed Elena Dementieva.
The Australian, who was leading 6-2 3-4, wept inconsolably as a great chance to cause an upset at Roland Garros – a venue she was returning to for the first time since 2004 – escaped her.
France’s Marion Bartoli, the 13th seed, was also tearful after being dumped out of her home grand slam, losing 6-3 7-5 to Italian Tathiana Garbin.
Bartoli later admitted she did not feel 100% on court, saying: “I was a bit tired and a bit sick. It’s like a bit of a sore throat, and my nose is running.
“I was not really fit so it was really hard for me.”
France’s Alize Cornet, the 21st seed, and 18th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues lost to Sorana Cirstea and Virginie Razzano respectively but 18-year-old Dane Caroline Wozniacki, the 10th seed, went through.