Venus loses; Safina, Ivanovic win

Updated: May 29, 2009, 6:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- Venus Williams was eliminated from the French Open on Friday, losing in the third round of the clay-court major for the third straight year.

The third-seeded Williams, who reached the 2002 final at Roland Garros, lost to No. 29 Agnes Szavay of Hungary 6-0, 6-4. It was only the 14th time in 662 career matches that Williams lost a set at love.

"I'm used to beating people 6-0," Williams said. "I'm not used to my shot not going in and losing a set 6-0. So it completely was foreign ground for me."

Bagels and loss

Venus Williams

Venus Williams has been bageled in a set 14 times in her career, including five at Grand Slams. She lost every Grand Slam match in which she suffered a bagel set.

Venus bageled in a Grand Slam set (career)
Event Opponent
'09 French Open Agnes Szavay
'06 Australian Open Tsvetana Pironkova
'00 French Open Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario
'99 Australian Open Lindsay Davenport
'97 U.S. Open Martina Hingis

The seven-time Grand Slam champion was playing for the third straight day. She lost the first set of her second-round match against Lucie Safarova on Wednesday before play was suspended because of darkness. Williams saved a match point and defeated Safarova on Thursday.

She was also stretched to three sets in the first round.

"I had a lot of struggles out there, and ultimately you've got to play well," Williams said. "Today it just didn't come together for me."

It was the 14th time in 662 career matches that Williams was shut out in a set, and her only worse defeat in Grand Slam play was a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Martina Hingis in the 2001 Australian Open semifinals.

Maria Sharapova earned yet another three-set win. The unseeded Russian lost the first set but rallied to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

"I dug a nice pothole for myself there ... so many errors and so many mistakes," Sharapova said. "Then, got rid of those errors and started playing better."

Defending champion Ana Ivanovic and top-seeded Dinara Safina also won easily.

Ivanovic, who lost in the 2007 French Open final before winning last year, has lost only eight games since being taken to a tiebreak in her opening match.

"[The] score doesn't indicate how hard I had to work for some points," said Ivanovic, a former No. 1. "She started playing much, much better in the second set and started hitting the ball much heavier. I just played really good and stayed in the moment and did what I had to do out there."

Safina, the current women's No. 1, defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-2, 6-0.

Safina, who is trying to win her first Grand Slam title after losing in the final at Roland Garros last year and in the Australian Open final this year, has lost only four games in three rounds. She won her first match 6-0, 6-0 and lost only one game in each set in the second round.

"When I broke her, I feel I started to play much more aggressive, and then I was dominating," Safina said. "Once you break up, it's easier to go for your shots and to be much more aggressive on the court."

Noisy teen Michelle Larcher de Brito was silenced by France's Aravane Rezai 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the third round. Sounding like she was having a particularly troublesome tooth extracted without anesthetic every time she played a point, the 16-year-old Portuguese qualifier drove her opponent to complain to the umpire several times during the match.

"She really shouts loud. Maybe it's the way she tries to impress the opponent, but it really did upset me because it was really unpleasant," Rezai said.

"I think the umpire did not really do his job, and so I told the referee. It's a pity, because she really plays well. She's talented, she fights but she still has a lot to learn. She's very young, and I think she's just going through a phase," Rezai said.

Larcher de Brito not only shrieked as she hit the ball but also yelped when her opponent sent her shots long. She also annoyed the partisan crowd with her racket slamming when she was frustrated.

But even the boos could not drown her out.

"I can do nothing about it," the Grand Slam debutante, ranked 132nd in the world, protested during the match.

"It's part of my game. I can't really all of a sudden stop grunting," she said later. "I mean, I could, but it won't feel natural because it feels like it's something missing in my game if I just stop."

Retaliating with some grunts of her own, the 57th-ranked Rezai managed to tune out long enough to win the first-set tiebreak before racing through the second set.

Rezai could barely look at her opponent as they shook hands curtly at the end.

Larcher de Brito trains at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, which has produced Grand Slam winners like Sharapova, another noisy player.

"I said to the umpire, he doesn't tell Maria to keep quiet," Larcher de Brito said. "When [Rezai] was winning she never complained. Only when I started to get my game going, I started winning games, then all of a sudden my noise is a nuisance."

Listing Monica Seles, one of the original grunters, as one of her idols, Larcher de Brito had become the first Portuguese player to advance to the third round of a Grand Slam.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.