Venus Williams loses in Round 4 of French Open

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PARIS --- So much for the thought that this might be the year Venus Williams would make a strong showing at the French Open.


So much for the thought that she and her younger sister Serena, the tournament's two top-seeded women, could deliver another all-Williams Grand Slam final.

Displaying little of the spark or strokes she regularly produces on grass and hard courts, and playing little like someone with the tour's best 2010 winning percentage, Williams stalled on the red clay of Roland Garros yet again Sunday, exiting in the fourth round with a 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 19 Nadia Petrova.

"I don't think the conditions are always ideal here. ... You might not be used to it or you might not get a good bounce," said the No. 2-seeded Williams, who began the day 29-4 this season, including 15-2 on clay. "That's just the way this tournament goes."

For her, anyway. The American's seven major titles all came at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, and only once has she made it to the semifinals in 14 French Open appearances -- back in 2002, when she lost to Serena in the championship match.

Williams complained about the temperatures in the 50s and swirling winds that reached 15 mph, and wore a long-sleeved top over her much-discussed black lace dress. She didn't exactly heap praise on Petrova, now a win away from reaching her third French Open semifinal.

"I don't think she did anything super special," Williams said, "but she just played a little bit more consistently."

Actually, Petrova concurred with that assessment, calling her own play "solid."

"I came up with the good shots when it was necessary," she said. "That's it. I don't think I've done anything spectacular today."

Petrova will face No. 5 Elena Dementieva in an all-Russian quarterfinal.

The third-round match between four-time champion Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova resumed Sunday after being suspended because of darkness a night earlier.

Sharapova began the third set strongly, taking 11 of the first 15 points. But when facing an 0-2, love-40 deficit, Henin began playing more aggressively and swung the momentum, taking four games in a row on the way to winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, her 24th consecutive victory at the French Open.

The Belgian will be forced to play for the fifth day in a row today against No. 7 Samantha Stosur of Australia.

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