Catwalk for Venus before rain pours
Paris: Venus Williams and Roger Federer caught the eye again at Roland Garros on Wednesday as both moved smoothly through to the third round of the French Open.
Defending men`s champion Federer produced some "Ooh la la" tennis on Court Phillipe Chatrier during a rain-hit 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Colombia`s Alejandro Falla after Venus had overpowered tricky Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-2, 6-4.
Impressively as Williams played, however, it was not just her groundstrokes and lethal serve that made an impact.
Once again, the 29-year-old American strode on court wearing a revealing lacy black corset which would not have looked out of place down the road at the Moulin Rouge cabaret.
After completing an impressive victory to move a step closer to a possible repeat of her 2002 final here against sister Serena, Venus described her latest creation as an illusion.
Her form so far here has been anything but and she looks in the mood to challenge for a title that has proved beyond her.
Having dispatched wily Swiss Patty Schnyder in the first round, the seven-times grand slam champion was again in dominant form against the unorthodox Santonja who plays double-handed on both wings and is especially tricky on clay.
After fending off a break point in her first service game she took command on a stadium which would have been quarter full had it not been for the presence of hundreds of youngsters taking advantage of Children`s Day at Roland Garros.
"She definitely kept me on my toes," Venus told reporters in reply to one of the few questions about the match itself.
"Overall, today I just thought I played the bigger points, especially on my serve, I played those really well, and I think that was key."
Explaining the outfit that she designed especially for Roland Garros and which also requires her to wear flesh-coloured underwear, Venus was happy to talk.
"It`s really about the illusion," she said. "What`s the point of wearing lace when there`s just black under. The illusion of just having bare skin is definitely for me a lot more beautiful."
Federer`s sartorial elegance at Wimbledon is well-known but elsewhere the Swiss needs no props to look cool.
That was the case again on Wednesday against Falla although initially he struggled to time the ball -- spraying some unforced errors off his frame as his south American opponent looked the more impressive in the first 11 games.
Federer, without a title since the Australian Open, managed just three points on Falla`s serve and was broken himself at 5-5 before responding immediately to break back and win a tiebreak.
Twice the players were forced off by rain that interrupted the schedule all day but Federer kept his game together and suffered no further alarms.
Robin Soderling, who Federer beat in last year`s final, is looming as a quarter-final opponent this year and the Swede was the most impressive player in second-round action on Wednesday, demolishing American Taylor Dent 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 in 71 minutes.
Eigth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also reached the third round with a straight-sets win over fellow Frenchman Josselin Ouanna while Marin Cilic of Croatia continued to impress, beating Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 6-3, 7-6, 6-2.
Meanwhile women`s champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was in some peril when rain again halted play late in the afternoon on Court One, losing the first set 6-4 to Germany`s Andrea Petkovic.