Serena wins, is last American playing in singles draw

Updated: June 1, 2007, 5:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- Serena Williams kept alive American interest at the French Open with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Dutch teenager Michaella Krajicek in the third round on Friday.

Williams, the sole U.S. survivor in either singles draw after her elder sister Venus lost to fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 earlier Friday, wore down Krajicek with an array of powerful baseline shots.

Two-time defending champion and top seed Justine Henin also advanced.

After her victory, Serena Williams was unimpressed with her effort.

"I didn't think I played well at all," she said. "I'm trying not to peak too soon, but at some point I need to start playing better."

Krajicek, who had said she idolized the American when she was growing up, appeared to be starstruck early as she quickly fell behind 3-0. She rallied to draw even at 3-3 but then crumbled under pressure and hit a service return long to bow out after 76 minutes.

"She's playing great tennis, and she plays well in a crunch," Venus Williams said of her sister. "And I think the longer she's in the tournament, the better she'll play."

Venus Williams, who missed the last two Grand Slam tournaments because of injuries, also lost to Jankovic in the third round at Wimbledon last year.

"Am I discouraged? No, not at all. I feel like I'm playing well, actually," Venus Williams said after making 49 unforced errors, 23 more than Jankovic. "I don't feel like she came out there and really beat me. I just feel like at times she was a little more patient than I was."

"I got a little bit tired at the end," Serena Williams said. "It's tough on clay."

The 22-year-old Serb dominated the five-time major champion in the first set, winning 20 of the 24 points played in her service games, including the first 10.

"I never had it in my mind that I was going to lose the match," said Jankovic, who won a clay-court warmup tournament in Rome last month.

Williams recovered in the second set, jumping out to 3-0 lead and holding on by breaking Jankovic in the 10th game to even the match. But Jankovic, who reached the semifinals at the 2006 U.S. Open, broke Williams three times in the third set.

Time and again, Jankovic did what it took to extend an exchange until Venus produced a miscue. Jankovic bore down in the closing set, winning six of the eight points that lasted at least 10 strokes.

"Each time you play the Williams sisters, it's really a tough game," Jankovic said. "And you have to be on the top of your level if you want to beat them. They are the best athletes in the women's game."

"The third set went a little bit faster than what I expected," Williams said. "I felt a little bit slow ... I couldn't get my feet where I wanted them."

Henin, celebrating her 25th birthday, advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Italy's Mara Santangelo.

No. 6 Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic reached the fourth round by beating 27th-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-4, 6-4.

Also, No. 20 Sybille Bammer of Austria beat 16th-seeded Li Na of China 6-4, 6-3, while No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and No. 19 Tathiana Garbin of Italy also advanced.

Garbin reached the fourth round by beating Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France 6-3, 6-0, and Hantuchova got to the third round by defeating Olga Poutchkova of Russia 7-6 (6), 6-3.

Thirteenth-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia was upset, losing to No. 18 Marion Bartoli of France 6-2, 6-4. In her 22nd Grand Slam, Bartoli will be making her first appearance in the fourth round.

"I'm not really surprised, because I don't have a feeling of playing above my level," said Bartoli, who will face Jankovic in the next round. "I don't think I'm over-performing."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.