Federer is flawless, happy birthday for Henin

1st June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 1, 2007 (AFP) - Roger Federer eased over another hurdle in his quest for a first French Open title when he outclassed Italy's Potito Starace on Friday to reach the last 16.

PARIS, June 1, 2007 (AFP) - Roger Federer eased over another hurdle in his quest for a first French Open title when he outclassed Italy's Potito Starace on Friday to reach the last 16.

It was classic Federer - swift, ruthless and sublime. Starace was little more than a walk-on figure by the end of a third round tie that lasted just 91 minutes with the Swiss star winning 6-2, 6-3, 6-0.

Women's top seed Justine Henin was equally dismissive of her opponent downing tall Italian Mara Santangelo 6-2, 6-3 to celebrate her 25th birthday in style and coast into a fourth round tie against Austria's Sybille Bammer.

Federer was joined in the fourth round by two of the men expected to give him trouble in the later stages of the Grand Slam tournament next week - Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Guillermo Canas of Argentina.

Also through went rising Argentine star Juan Monaco defeating French wildcard Edouard Roger-Vasselin and gritty Russian Mikhail Youzhny who outlasted 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 6-2.

To complete the last 16 line-up in the top half of the draw, last year's beaten semi-finalist David Nalbandian of Argentina silenced the partisan centre-court crowd by seeing off a bold challenge from Gael Monfils in four tough sets.

Filippo Volandri of Italy stunned seventh seed Croatian Ivan Ljubicic and Spain's Tommy Robredo coasted past Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

Henin apart, Jelena Jankovic was the pick of the women, underlining her title credentials by defeating Venus Williams in a classy centre-court third round encounter 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

Serena Williams kept the family flag flying late in the day though with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands.

Federer said after his mismatch against Starace that all was in place as he gears up his bid to dethrone Rafael Nadal and become only the third man in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

"I feel well and I'm playing well. I haven't lost a set so I'm happy to be in the fourth round," said Federer.

"I felt good from the start and it was hard for him to hit service winners. I always felt that I would be the better man from the baseline and on clay that's a huge advantage."

Federer will take a career 9-0 advantage over Youzhny into Sunday's fourth round.

Despite that record, he insists he will not underestimate his opponent.

"Although I have never lost to him, I have a lot of respect for his game. I like the way he plays, so I will have to be careful," he said.

Youzhny was less forthcoming. "We'll see what happens," was all he could muster.

Davydenko was equally dismissive of French hope Michael Llodra winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 to move to within two matches of a possible semi-final matchup with Federer.

Canas, playing his his first Grand Slam event since serving a 15-month ban for doping saw off the challenge of Belgium's Kristoff Vliegen 6-2, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 and he will now play compatriot Monaco for a place in the quarter-finals.

Favourite Nadal has his third round tie on Saturday going up against compatriot Albert Montanes.

The 22-year Belgrade-born Jankovic has been in impressive form this year winning three titles in Auckland, Charleston and most recently in Rome and she had beaten Williams on the last two occasions they had met.

The Serb made it three in a row winning a superb morning start contest that swung one way and then the next before Jankovic grabbed control from a tiring Williams in the third set.

"I stayed mentally very strong in third set and I really went for my shots," Jankovic said.

"I was a little bit tired in the second set, but I just went for it in the third and it paid off.

"It was an amazing third round match and it was a shame that Venus had to go out so early. It's always good to beat one of the Williams sisters."

Jankovic is seeded to meet Henin in the semi-finals with second seed Maria Sharapova in the other half of the draw playing her third round tie against Russian compatriot Alla Kudryavtseva on Saturday

The top half of the third round in the women's tournament also saw an upset from France's Marion Bartoli who proved too good for 2004 runner-up Elena Dementieva of Russia winning 6-2, 6-4

Joining her in the last 16 were Italy's Tathiana Garbin who ousted French youngster Stephanie Cohen-Aloro, Austria's Bammer who ended Chinese hopes with a straight sets win over Li Na, sixth-seed Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic who breezed past Australia's Samantha Stosur and Dinara Safina of Russia who bounced back to defeat Italy's Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 and set up a tie against Serena Williams.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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