Close shave for Federer

PARIS - Roger Federer and Venus William made great French Open escapes yesterday while 13th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli made an exhausting list of excuses for her second round defeat.

PARIS - Roger Federer and Venus William made great French Open escapes yesterday while 13th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli made an exhausting list of excuses for her second round defeat.

Second seed Federer claimed a 7-6 (10/8) 5-7 7-6 (7/2) 6-2 win over Argentina's Jose Acasuso, who wasted four set points in the first set and another in the third when he led 5-1.

Acasuso, who has only progressed beyond the second round of a Grand Slam once in 28 attempts, cut a weary figure by the end, worn down as much by his own physical shortcomings as Federer's pinpoint hitting.

"I'm not in that sort of situation very often although the conditions were slow so that was in his favour," said world No 2 Federer.

"He looked tired to me by the end so I just tightened the game and closed him out. That was a good feeling."

Federer, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal here for the past three years and still missing a French Open from his 13-title Grand Slam collection, now faces either French 32nd seed Paul-Henri Mathieu or Pablo Andujar of Spain for a place in the last 16.

Venus Williams, the American third seed, who was runner-up to sister Serena in 2002, but had exited at the third round in the last two years, saved a match point in her 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 7-5 win over the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova.

The Wimbledon champion had been trailing by a set when the players were called off court late on Wednesday but she quickly levelled the tie on the resumption.

Former Wimbledon finalist Bartoli was a second round casualty losing 6-3 7-5 to experienced Italian Tathiana Garbin.

Bartoli blamed her defeat on a host of problems, from illness to the chilly conditions to the noise made by a small, feisty contingent of Italian fans.

"I was a little tired and a little sick, I had a sore throat and my nose is running.

"It was very cold and the court was heavy," moaned the Frenchwoman.

Serena Williams reached the third round with a comfortable 6-2 6-0 win over 35-year-old Virginia Ruano Pascual and will next face another Spaniard, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, for a place in the last 16. - Sapa-AFP

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