Henin, Williamses, Jankovic, Ivanovic, Dementieva advance; Sugiyama upset

8/29/2007 - Tennis

NEW YORK -- Venus Williams overcame a few glitches and Justine Henin ran right into the next round Wednesday at a U.S. Open where the favorites kept rolling.

Williams had a couple speed bumps -- six double-faults, 20 unforced errors -- in beating Ioana Raluca Olaru of Romania 6-4, 6-2.

"I want to be the last one standing with a plate over my head," Williams said. "I'm not stressed out on a few shots. Feel a little wiser."

After launching a Grand Slam-record 129 mph serve in her opening match, Williams reached a top speed of 124 mph and had to be content with only one ace. The two-time Open champ moved into the third round.

"I definitely feel like I'm on a roll," she said. "I feel like when I need the points I get them. I'm playing very strong. Everything is going well."

Her sister, also a two-time title winner here, got to the third round by defeating Maria Elena Camerin of Italy 7-5, 6-2 at night. As she often does, Serena Williams glanced during changeovers at handwritten notes in a pink notebook; one page carried the header "U.S. Open."

Serena Williams had 13 of her 19 unforced errors in the opening set when the 76th-ranked Camerin traded crisp groundstrokes with the eighth-seeded American.

But with the score tied at 5-5, Serena Williams found her stride and won eight of the final 10 games.

"I feel like I played better than I did in my first match," she said. "But I'm still trying to get it to come together."

In her first-round match, an error-prone Serena Williams defeated Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-3 7-5.

The two-time U.S. Open champion had not played in a tournament since losing to Henin in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon last month.

In the third round Serena Williams will play Russian Vera Zvonareva, who knocked out Maria Sharapova from the Australian Open in the round of 16 earlier this year.

Henin also advanced into the third round, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-0.

The top-seeded Belgian, bidding for her seventh major title, broke Pironkova's spirit midway through the final set. Henin raced back to the baseline, her legs churning at a full speed for a shot that eventually won her the point. Pironkova flipped her racket in the air and then tried to catch it and missed.

"I know I have to work hard because I know a lot of surprises can happen, even if it looks easy," Henin said. "You have to be careful all the time."

Henin has dropped just seven games in her opening two matches but said winning early matches in straight sets was not necessarily crucial in terms of the tournament as a whole.

"It's important, but I'm not quite sure it means a lot of things," she said. "I've been in trouble in my first week sometimes when I won Grand Slams. It's good physically if you can remain fresh mentally and emotionally but if you can get a little bit in the competition early it's also good."

Third seed Jelena Jankovic needed only 62 minutes to breeze past Belarusian teen Olga Govortsova with a 6-2, 6-2 second-round win. Jankovic, a semifinalist here in 2006, landed 69 percent of her first serves and had only two double-faults to set up a third-round match against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, who beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-1.

Jankovic had never played Govortsova and admitted she had trouble figuring out her shots.

She said, however, her form had improved from her 6-2, 7-6 (2) victory over Slovakian Jarmila Gajdosova to open the tournament.

"It was a lot better than my first round," said Jankovic, who had only 12 unforced errors against Govortsova. "But I feel also a little bit slow, especially on the returns. And not knowing the way how [Govortsova] plays, sometimes she comes up with very hard shots, very deep, and then all of a sudden there are some other shots that I don't really expect.

"So I was trying to focus and just really try to watch the ball carefully because my reactions, especially on the return, were not really that great," she said. "I was trying to get in a rhythm and just feel the ball and just play the game. But obviously I am just improving and getting better and better and just getting in form."

Jankovic described her memories of her semifinal run a year ago as "amazing."

"If I look at myself, I felt like I was flying on the court," she said. "I was just so fast. I look at myself now, it's totally different player, different girl.

"But I feel more mature, more experienced. I'm having a lot of fun. I'm just enjoying my game," she said.

Fifth seed Ana Ivanovic recovered from a slow start to beat Aravane Rezai of France 6-3, 6-1 and reach the third round.

Ivanovic trailed 3-1 in the opening set but stormed back to set up a meeting with Russian Vera Dushevina, who beat Ekaterina Bychkova 6-4, 6-3.

"It was a very slow start for me," Ivanovic said.

"I was a little bit nervous and I was going for a bit too much. Then as the match went on I got a little bit in the rhythm and took my opportunities," she said.

Ivanovic dropped her serve in the opening game but, from 3-1 down, reeled off eight straight games to lead by a set and 3-0.

World No. 61 Rezai, who reached the fourth round last year, held serve in the fourth game before Ivanovic eased to victory.

Ivanovic, who became at the French Open this year the first Serb to reach a Grand Slam singles final, lost to Venus Williams in the semifinals at Wimbledon and could meet the American again in the fourth round.

The 19-year-old said her expectations were not quite so high this time.

"It's not a secret that my part of the draw is much harder," Ivanovic said. "But I feel very good physically and also mentally and think I am playing well at the moment.

"My first goal is to reach the second week, do better than last year [third round]. Hopefully I can win my next match and then play Venus again," she said.

Japan lost its final player in the women's draw when veteran Ai Sugiyama was defeated in three sets by Russian teen Ekaterina Makarova.

Sugiyama, 30, landed only 56 percent of her first serves and came up short on many of the big points during a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 loss.

"I had never seen her play so it was hard to get into the match," the 28th-seeded Sugiyama said after the second-round match.

"Instead of attacking, I was waiting for the ball to see what she was going to do. I should have focused on myself a little bit more," she said.

Makarova, a qualifier ranked 156th, won the first set by blasting four aces and landing 82 percent of her first serves. But Sugiyama recovered in the next by converting both of her second-set break-point opportunities.

Fourteen unforced errors in the final set doomed Sugiyama, who had previously reached the fourth round twice during her 13 years at Flushing Meadows.

"The third set didn't go my way at all," said a disconsolate Sugiyama. "She kept the ball in and I had a lot of mistakes. It was not a great match."

Sugiyama said Makarova, despite her 44 unforced errors, "served good on the crucial points."

"I had a lot of makable shots but I missed by just this much," Sugiyama added, holding her thumb and forefinger fractionally apart. "Things just didn't go my way and I never got my rhythm. I didn't attack and I didn't move her around.

"The score was pretty close but today was not my day for sure," she said.

Left-hander Makarova was delighted to reach the third round, where she will face Henin, in her first Grand Slam appearance.

"I'm in a good form now," the 18-year-old said. "We had really good points. But maybe I was just a little luckier."

Sugiyama would not say if she planned to retire in the offseason.

"I can't even think about it yet," she said. "I'll have to see how the season goes. Then I'll think about next year."

Japan's two other women in the main draw, Aiko Nakamura and Akiko Morigami, both lost in the first round.

In other action, No. 14 Elena Dementieva beat Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 6-2; No. 21 Alona Bondarenko beat Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3; No. 15 Dinara Safina defeated beat Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-1; 19th seed Sybille Bammer defeated American Meghann Shaughnessy 6-4, 6-3; No. 20 Lucie Safarova beat Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-3; and No. 10 Marion Bartoli defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-1.

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