Serena, Djokovic reach third round

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Defending champion Serena Williams recovered from a poor start to defeat Simona Halep 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 yesterday and move into the third round of Wimbledon, staying on course for a fifth title.

After dropping the first set, Williams regained her renowned intensity and powerful shot-making to dominate the rest of the way on Court 2. The winner of 13 grand slam singles titles is still searching for her form after a yearlong absence because of injuries and health issues.

There were no tears this time from Williams, who sobbed with relief on Monday after winning her opening match on Centre Court against Aravane Rezai of France.

"I'm just happy to be playing and hopefully I'll get better as the tournament goes on," Williams said. "It was a little windy out there and I just was a little tight so I just got to relax and enjoy myself more."

From 4-2 in the second set, the seventh-seeded American won eight out of the last nine games to re-establish her supremacy on the grass at the All England Club in London, pumping a clenched fist and shouting "Come on!" after smacking key winners.

It was the fourth consecutive three-setter Williams has played since returning last week at the Eastbourne grasscourt tournament. She had been out for nearly a year after two foot operations and blood clots in her lungs.

"I guess I just want to play longer matches because I can get more practice," said Williams, who will play 26th seed Maria Kirilenko in the next round. The Russian beat Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn 7-5, 7-5 in their second-round clash.

In men's play, second-seeded Novak Djokovic swept into the third round by beating South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on Court 1.

The Serb has won his opening two rounds in straight sets after his 43-match winning streak was ended by Roger Federer in the French Open semifinals.

"On the important moments, I served well, I played well and I returned really, really well today," said Djokovic, who has twice reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and will take over the No. 1 ranking if he makes the final this year.

Stay focused

"In the first week, you have to stay focused. You're playing lower-ranked players with nothing to lose. It's just great to win two straight-set matches."

The No. 32 seed Marcos Baghdatis or Andreas Seppi are next in line for Djokovic.

In an upset, Chinese Taipei's Lu Yen-hsun toppled another Serb, 13th-seeded Viktor Troicki, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round.

Also advancing in the women's draw were sixth-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy, who downed Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-5, 6-3; Russian No. 12 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 6-0, 6-2; and 18th-seeded and former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic, the Serb easing to a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Eleni Daniilidou of Greece.

But it was a disappointing day for Zheng Jie. A semifinalist in 2008, the Chinese star slumped to a 3-6, 1-6 second-round defeat to Japan's Misaki Doi.

As usual, Williams used her big serve to control the match against her Romanian opponent. She had seven aces, won 88 percent of points on her first serve and smacked a 183 kilometers per hour service winner to end the tie.

Williams finished with 34 winners and 19 unforced errors, nine in the first set.

The 19-year-old Halep, making her Wimbledon debut, came out firing from the start and wasn't awed or intimidated by the occasion or her famous opponent.

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