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tennisIlove09
May 29th, 2003, 10:32 PM
Venus overcomes rough patch
Associated Press


PARIS -- Venus Williams struggled with erratic groundstrokes and a persistent opponent before winning the final three games Thursday to beat Evie Dominikovic 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the second round at the French Open.

Williams, seeded third, committed 68 unforced errors, lost her serve five times and needed nearly two hours to advance.

Dominikovic, ranked 110th, was bidding for an upset on her 23rd birthday.

"I was happy I was playing Venus and not Serena,'' she said.

Williams overpowered Dominikovic at times, hitting one backhand so hard it knocked the Australian's racket from her hand.

But Williams lost her serve twice in a row to drop the second set, and when she hit a backhand wide to lose serve again early in the third set, she bounced her racket strings against her head in dismay.

"Obviously I can't stay at that level and do as well as I like to,'' Williams said. "I've just got to hit the right shots at the right time.''

Advancing more easily were No. 2-seeded Kim Clijsters, No. 6 Lindsay Davenport and No. 7 Jennifer Capriati.

Davenport overcame three consecutive set points and beat Iroda Tulyaganova 7-5, 6-1 to reach the third round at Roland Garros for the first time since 1999. Clijsters beat Marlene Weingartner 6-2, 6-2, and Capriati defeated Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-0.

No. 10 Jelena Dokic was upset by Tina Pisnik 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

No. 24 Conchita Martinez reached the third round at Roland Garros for the 15th time by beating Emmanuelle Gagliardi 7-5, 6-2.

No. 15 Magdalena Maleeva eliminated Evgenia Koulikovskaya 6-3, 6-2. American Corina Morariu, playing her first tournament since being sidelined late last year by a torn rotator cuff, lost to No. 30-seeded Paola Suarez 6-1, 6-1.

Davenport struggled with her serve against Tulyaganova and faced 10 break points. But she won nine of the final 10 games and closed out the center-court match in 66 minutes.

"It wasn't a very high, high level of play out there,'' Davenport said. "It was one of those days where you're lucky your opponent doesn't play great and you're lucky to get through. I just kind of did what I had to do.''

Davenport, a three-time Grand Slam champion, missed Roland Garros the past two years because of knee injuries and lost in the opening round in 2000. But she said she's more comfortable on clay now.

"All around I'm a little bit more athletic,'' the 6-foot-2 Californian said. "As far as being a true clay-court mover, there's no way I'm ever going to be able to do it.

"I try, believe me. It's tough to get your balance and your footing on clay because it's so slippery. But there's no question I'm better than the last time I was here in 2000 and before that.''

Her next opponent will be No. 25-seeded Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy, who beat Gala Leon Garcia 6-3, 6-4.