French Open Day Three: Serena Williams Wins Ugly; Other Top Seeds Cruise

Chris Oddo aka The Fan Child@@TheFanChildCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

PARIS - MAY 26:  Serena Williams of the USA hits a backhand during her Women's Singles First Round match against Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 26, 2009 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

After two hours and 25 minutes of suspenseful (if sloppy) tennis, one thing is for certain: There are more questions about Serena Williams chances here at Roland Garros than there were at the start of the match.

While other top seeds (think DementievaJankovic, and Kuznetsova) had the pedal to the metal (they each won easily, in straight sets), Serena was stuck in neutral against No. 100-ranked Klara Zakopalova.

It took nine match points to finally get the job done, five of which went wasted in a sixty-seven minute second set that was particularly frustrating for Serena, given that she had the spectre of an impending doubles match next on her always-busy schedule.
But the feisty Zakopalova, to her credit, stayed in the match by keeping the ball in play, and keeping Serena on the move.  After leveling the match by securing her fourth set point in the tiebreaker, the 27-year-old Czech went ahead a break in the third set.  
Serena promptly won the next four games and was able to close it out after burning through three more match points, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4.  
Serena has never lost in 38  first-round Grand Slam matches, but the bigger question is, how much gas will she have in the tank for future matches (on grueling clay, her worst surface) after spending far too much time on the court with Zakopalova today?  
She'll face Spaniard Virginia Ruano Pascal in the next round. Pascal has been past the second round only once in her last eight appearances at Roland Garros. 
After her victory, Serena got together with her sister Venus on the doubles side. Results were mixed there as well—play was suspended at 4-3 on serve in the third set in their match with the Czech doubles team of Hlavackova and Hradecka.