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Serena Advances to Paris Quarterfinals

February 9, 2005

PARIS (AP) _ Two-time champion Serena Williams beat Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals at the Open Gaz de France.

It was Williams’ first match since she won the Australian Open, and she showed no signs of rustiness.

She joined No. 4-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia and No. 7 Silvia Farina Elia of Italy in the quarterfinals at the indoor tournament. Petrova defeated Selima Sfar of Tunisia 6-3, 6-3, and Farina Elia beat Virginie Razzano of France 6-4, 6-1.

Farina Elia next faces Tatiana Golovin or Sandra Mamic, who replaced Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova in the draw. Sharapova withdrew Wednesday because of a respiratory illness.

``I’m very disappointed I won’t be playing in Paris this year,″ the second-seeded Sharapova said in a statement. ``I’m not in my best condition and will not be able to perform at my best.″

Sharapova won the Pan Pacific Open in Japan on Sunday.

In other action, Marion Bartoli of France advanced to the second round when Eleni Daniilidou of Greece quit while trailing 6-3, 2-0, and No. 5 Nathalie Dechy of France topped Jelena Kostanic of Croatia 7-5, 7-6 (4).

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