A virus has been going round the locker rooms here at the French Open, leaving players tired and sick. Serena Williams was the latest victim, but if the bug thought it was going to bring her down the American had other ideas. Williams sent for the doctor after losing five games in a row against Anastasia Pavlyu- chenkova but recovered to win their third-round match 6-1 1-6 6-2.
Williams felt unwell as early as the second game. "I got really fatigued," she said. "I felt really dizzy out there. I was just trying to stay in there."
The 12-time Grand Slam champion had raced through the first set, but Pavlyuchenkova, an 18-year-old Russian of great promise, went 5-0 up in the second. Williams, clearly in distress, took a medical time-out and had her pulse and temperature checked. She lost the set and still looked uncomfortable at the start of the decider, in which she had to save two break points at 1-1.
However, the tide turned when Williams broke serve in the fourth game. "Towards the end of the third I started feeling better and moving better, and then I was able to play some longer points, so that's a good sign," the American said.
Williams, who is now guaranteed to stay at the top of the world rankings, saw the doctor again after the match. "He just told me to rest and I just ate a lot," she said. "He said there's a bug going round and how players start feeling tired and the next day they get sick. I've been loading up on vitamins. I should be OK."
Shahar Peer will be Williams's next opponent after the fast-improving Israeli ended home interest in the women's singles with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Marion Bartoli. Aravane Rezai had already gone out, losing 6-7 6-4 10-8 to Nadia Petrova, the match having been held over from the previous night with the score at 7-7 in the final set.
After the bright sunshine of the previous day and the soaring temperatures earlier in the week, grey clouds hung over Roland Garros. By early evening, on an increasingly chilly day, rain was falling again.
Justine Henin and Maria Shara-pova began their eagerly awaited third-round contest at 7.45pm and left 84 minutes later with the score one set all. Henin won the first 6-2 and Sharapova the second 6-3, at the end of which it was too dark to continue.
Henin, who ended her 20-month retirement in January, has not lost here since 2004. However, the four-time champion has not always looked at her best over the past week and Sharapova ended the Belgian's run of 40 successive winning sets here, which equalled the record set by Helen Wills Moody in 1932.
Having regularly toyed with Sharapova in the first set by driving the Russian to the back of the court and then hitting killer drop-shots, Henin was being outplayed by the end of the second. Sharapova, finding her range on her groundstrokes and attacking the net, broke at 5-3 and served out to love. Battle will resume today.
Rafael Nadal had no such problems against Lleyton Hewitt, though the Australian kept him on court for nearly two-and-a-half hours. Nadal, who used to have trouble beating the former world No 1, won 6-3 6-4 6-3.
On any other surface, Andy Roddick's 6-4 6-4 6-2 loss to Teimuraz Gabashvili, a Russian ranked No 114, would have been a surprise, but the American has never gone beyond the fourth round here and arrived with no clay-court matches under his belt. Gabashvili will play Jurgen Melzer, a surprise winner over David Ferrer.
Roddick might have known his number would be up when he saw he was playing on Court Suzanne Lenglen, where he lost in the first or second round every year between 2002 and 2007. The world No 8 was unhappy with the stringing of his rackets and the damp tarpaulins at the back of the court, which made the balls wet. After inspecting three balls as he prepared to serve in the first set, he said: "No dry balls. So unprofessional."
The world No 8 asked Carlos Bernardes, the umpire: "Is there any conversation that takes place once we leave Roland Garros before I come back? All I can do is hold you accountable. Who do you talk to? Who's the supervisor? I want a name."
Novak Djokovic survived a second-set wobble before beating Victor Hanescu 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-2. He now faces Robby Ginepri, the last American in the men's singles. The world No 98 beat Juan Carlos Ferrero, the champion here in 2003, 7-5 6-3 3-6 2-6 6-4.