Federer, Nadal ignore rain delays to reach Paris third round

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both shrugged off annoying rain interruptions Thursday to reach the third round of the French Open, advancing under strain in poor conditions, dpa reported.

But the delay caught out women's top seed Maria Sharapova, who was stranded by fading light while leading American Bethany Mattek 6-2, 2-3.

For the third day, a match with three-time champion Nadal was hit by the weather. But the pause didn't hurt the Spanish king of clay as he won his 23rd straight contest at Roland Garros, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 over Frenchman Nicolas Devilder.

Top seed Federer, hoping to dethrone his rival, had to turn the tables after dropping a set to Spaniard Albert Montanes.

The Swiss star did so in style after a 90-minute pause with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 result into the third round, where he will face Croatian Mario Ancic, the last man to beat him on grass, at Wimbledon in 2002.

"Conditions were tough, playing basically 10 games in the rain wasn't a whole lot of fun," said Federer, winner of 12 majors but without a French Open crown. "But that's what happens on clay sometimes."

"It was tough going down a set, but reaction was good and I bounced back strong. I played really well after that," said Federer following a 13-ace, 61-winner performance in two hours, 27 minutes.

Ninth-seed compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka joined Federer in advancing with another rain-hit win as he beat Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.

Nikolay Davydenko, the number four, came out on top in an all- Russian battle as he eliminated former number one Marat Safin 7-6 (7- 4), 6-2, 6-2.

Spain's fifth seed David Ferrer crushed popular French veteran Fabrice Santoro 6-0, 6-1, 6-0.

French wildcard Jeremy Chardy came from two sets to love down to stun one of the pre-tournament title-shot outsiders with a 3-6, 4-6, 6- 2, 6-1, 6-2 knockout of sixth seed David Nalbandian, who was suffering with an adductor strain.

Number 80 Ernests Gulbis stunned frustrated seventh seed James Blake 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. The American Blake complained that he's been listening too closely to armchair critics of his game.

Women's third seed Jelena Jankovic survived a sore right arm and a fierce fightback from New Zealand's Marina Erakovic to scratch out a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) win.

"It happened somewhere in the beginning of the second set and gradually was getting worse and worse," said the Serb of her injury.

Jankovic found herself in a duel in the second set as Erakovic, a 20-year-old Croatian-born right-hander from Auckland, ranked 80th, punched above her weight to force a second-set tiebreaker.

Jankovic eventually escaped with victory when Erakovic netted a forehand. The Serb was twice treated for her arm and wrist problem, but refused to take a taping and asked for pain-dulling cream instead.

Two Russian seeds went through, with number seven Elena Dementieva hammering Pole Marta Domachowska 6-1, 6-4 and Dinara Safina, seeded 13th, doing the same to Magdalena Rybarikova 6-0, 6-1.

Eighth seed Venus Williams reached the third round with a victory over Tunisian Selima Sfar, 6-2, 6-4, overcoming 28 unforced errors.

The 27-year-old US star, who finished runner-up to her sister Serena in 2002, improved to 35-11 at Roland Garros in her 12th consecutive appearance.

Williams will next face Italian Flavia Pennetta, who beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

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