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By Chris Oddo
Photo Credit: Clive Rose/ Getty
Sara Errani French Open
(June 28, 2012)—Maria Sharapova was smiling and blowing kisses to the adoring British crowd after her second-round win on Court 1 today, but Tsvetana Pironkova had her frowning in the early going of this match.

The Russian served up back-to-back double faults in a scratchy second-set tiebreaker, then confidently reversed course to shellack the Bulgarian in the decider, 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 6-0.

The win was Sharapova’s 9th consecutive victory in a three-set match, and moves her record to 38-5 on the year. The world No. 1 advances to face Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan in the third round.

In a match was delayed for darkness at 3-1 in the second set yesterday, Pironkova started out by playing the same fetching tennis that defined her play yesterday.The 24-year-old world No. 34 kept Sharapova on the move with crisp groundstrokes and was seemingly unfazed by Sharapova’s heavy pace.

After forcing the second-set tiebreaker, all Pironkova had to do was sit back and let Sharapova implode. The 2012 French Open champion played her loosest points of the fortnight in the tiebreaker, hitting back-to-back double faults at one point and making other assorted errors to hand Pironkova the set.

But Sharapova’s inner sleeping giant awoke again early in the third. She broke quickly for a 1-0, then again on a wickedly angled crosscourt forehand for 3-0, and the rest was history.

What could have been a blow to her confidence, turned into a restoration in faith in her ability to deal with distress.

Sharapova moves on to face Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan in Round 3.

Serena too Good for Czink

Serena Williams appears to be ramping up her game. The four-time Wimbledon champ cruised into the third-round with a relatively uncomplicated 6-1, 6-4 victory over Melinda Czink of Hungary today. The sun came out briefly for the Hungarian, who held serve four times to make things competitive in the second set, but when Serena raced to the net to put away a Czink dropper attempt on break point in the 9th game of set, the festivities were all but over.

Williams hit 10 aces, 22 winners and did not face a break point against the 29-year-old.

“I think I served okay today,” said Williams. Then she laughed as she rethought that statement. “I think I served really well today.”

In a lighter moment, the 13-time Grand Slam singles champion then proceeded to tell the BBC interviewer that she would do his nails.

It was that kind of a day for Williams, full of her trademark goofiness and her trademark grass domination. “I think as the tournament goes on each match you tend to play a little better, so yeah,” said Williams who now leads all active players with 213 Grand Slam wins. Only Martina Navratilova (306), Evert (299), and Graf (278) have more.

Williams will face former Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie in the third round.

Kvitova and Azarenka Steam Through

Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka and fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova also won in convincing fashion to reach the third round today. Azarenka saved all four break points she faced in a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Romina Oprandi, while Kvitova won 20 of 28 net points and hit 23 winners to keep Brit Elena Baltacha at bay, 6-0, 6-4.

Also moving through to the third round were 8th-seeded Angelique Kerber, 10th-seeded Sara Errani, 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic and 22nd-seeded Julia Goerges.

In the upset of the day on the women's side, world No. 133 Mirjana Lucic of Croatia reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2001 when she defeated Marion Bartoli in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.

Sharapova, Radwanska and Clijsters back in action on day 5

World No. 1 and top seed Maria Sharapova will take on Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan on Court 1 tomorrow, while 3rd-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska will take on Brit Heather Watson on Centre Court.

Kim Clijsters will look to keep her hopes of winning her last Wimbledon alive when she faces 12th-seeded Vera Zvonareva on Court 1, while Christina McHale and Sloane Stephens will also be in action for the Americans. McHale will face Angelique Kerber, Stephens will face Sabine Lisicki.


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