French Open: Angelique Kerber finds form, Serena Williams digs deep | More sports | DW | 31.05.2018
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French Open: Angelique Kerber finds form, Serena Williams digs deep

It's been a good day for Germany as Angelique Kerber led the way, winning her second-round match in an hour dead. Serena Williams also progressed, but the returning American was made to work harder for her victory.

Angelique Kerber needed exactly one hour as she advanced to the third round  of the French Open with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Ana Bogdan on Thursday.

The former world No. 1 infamously lost in the first round at Roland Garros last year, becoming only the fifth top seed in the Open Era to fall in the first round.

But Kerber has started to find her form again, and her Romanian opponent offered little resistence as Kerber eased to her 30th victory of the season.

The French Open is the only Grand Slam in which Kerber has never reached the final and she struggled with her serve once again on the clay, her Achilles heel on the surface.

But her powerful forehand got her out of trouble, and Kerber's reward is a tricky test against 18th seed Kiki Bertens, a clay specialist who reached the final of the Madrid Open earlier this month.

'Catwoman' shows her class

Serena Williams showed glimpses of her best form as she recovered from losing the first set to beat Australian Ashleigh Barty 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Barty took the first set — her first ever against the former champion — as Williams struggled to find her range.

French Open 2018 | Serena Williams, USA (Getty Images/C. Spencer)

Williams started slowly but her class shone through against Australia's Ashleigh Barty.

But the American, whose all black 'Catwoman' suit for the tournament has grabbed the attention as much as her tennis, grew into the contest and she sealed the second set with a crunching ace down the T.

Williams now had the bit between her teeth and, despite Barty's best efforts to stay in the match, Williams' class shone through as she came out on top.

Top women safely through

Top-ranked Simona Halep, third-seeded Garbine Muguruza and two-time champion Maria Sharapova all powered into the third round with straight-set victories.

Halep showed no signs of fatigue in beating wild-card entry Taylor Townsend 6-3, 6-1, despite playing on consecutive days. The Romanian's reward is a showdown with Germany's Andrea Petkovic, who beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-0, 7-6.

French Open 2018 | Maria Scharapowa, Russland (Getty Images/AFP/C. Simon)

Maria Sharapova didn't have things all her own way, but eventually had enough to beat Donna Vekic.

Sharapova took a bit of time to close out her match on Court 1. She led 5-2 in the second set, then served for the win at 5-3, but was broken when she sailed an off-balance forehand wide. She broke right back to end it, though, converting her fifth match point with a forehand return winner.

Sharapova is competing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. She missed the clay-court Grand Slam tournament in 2016 while serving a doping suspension, then was denied a wild-card entry by the French tennis federation last year, when her ranking was too low to earn automatic entry.

And Muguruza impressed with her easy movement around the court in a 6-4, 6-3 victory over French wild-card entry Fiona Ferro. Muguruza's third round opponent will be Sam Stosur of Australia.

Nadal masterclass

Top men's seed Rafael Nadal produced a third-round masterclass with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Argentina's Guido Pella.

Nadal was in imperious form as he took a little over two hours to set up a fourth-round clash with France's Richard Gasquet, who beat Tunisian Malek Jaziri in four sets.

French Open 2018 | Rafael Nadal, Spanien (Getty Images/AFP/E. Feferberg)

Rafael Nadal was in imperious form as he disposed of Guido Pella in straight sets.

Germany's Mischa Zverev and Maximilian Marterer also booked their places in the third round. Zverev beat the Ukraine's Sergiy Stakovsky 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1 while 22-year-old Marterer recovered from losing the first set to claim the scalp of the 25th seed, Canada's Denis Shapovalov. If Marterer comes through his third-round match with Estonia's Jürgen Zopp, he could face Nadal in Round 4.

There were also wins for fourth seed Marin Cilic, who saw off Polish outsider Hubert Hurkacz, and South African Kevin Anderson, who beat Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in four, and Juan Martin del Potro, who was a straight sets winner against Julien Benneteau.

mds/pfd (AP/AFP, Reuters)

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