Fabrice Santoro puts up a tough fight before James Blake advances

KEY BISCAYNE: Lindsay Davenport continued her comeback after giving birth and upset second-ranked Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday in the third round at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Davenport left the women’s tour in late 2006 to have her first child, then came back in the middle of last year. The three-time Grand Slam champion is 17-3 this year with two titles and she rated the win over Ivanovic as her best since returning.

“It’s quite rewarding,” said Davenport, 31.

“In this comeback, for lack of better words, I’ve not made a fool of myself. I’ve done pretty well for my age and for what I’ve been through.”

On the men’s side, No. 2 Rafael Nadal never faced a break point and beat Nicolas Kiefer 6-2, 6-4. No. 9 James Blake outlasted 35-year-old Fabrice Santoro, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4.

Hampered by injuries in recent years, Davenport is playing at Key Biscayne for the first time since 2003.

She next faces No. 13 Dinara Safina, who rallied past No. 18 Sybille Bammer 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Serena and Venus Williams also reached the fourth round, as did top-seeded Justine Henin.

Four-time champion Serena Williams had the toughest time, overcoming 60 unforced errors and a 3-0 deficit in the second set to beat No. 27 Flavia Pennetta 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-2.

Kuznetsova rallies

No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova also needed a comeback. In the second set she overcame a 5-2 deficit and a match point, and she swept the final 11 games to beat No. 25 Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 7-5, 6-0.

Venus Williams, seeded sixth, defeated wild card Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-1. Henin beat Sara Errani by the same score.

No. 4 Jelena Jankovic won her second match in 18 hours beating Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-1.

The victory came after Jankovic played past midnight on Saturday, saving five match points in a third-set tiebreaker to beat Sofia Arvidsson.

The 20-year-old Ivanovic was the Australian Open runner-up and won Indian Wells this month.

Great performance

But her game unravelled against Davenport, who repeatedly swatted deep service returns and broke six times.

“She played like a top 10 player easily today,” Ivanovic said. “I must say I haven’t played against many players who can return so well and so deep, so she puts a lot of pressure on my serve.”

Davenport relied on her customary power but also showed surprising finesse, winning 13 of 14 points at the net.

Henin had more trouble with the sunny, 29-degree heat than with her opponent.

The Belgian won 19 of 20 points on her first serve, including five with aces, and she was glad to get off the court after only 63 minutes.

“It’s very hot out there,” Henin said. “It was quite difficult to breathe. I usually like when it’s hot, but I haven’t been in this heat for a long time. Even in Australia it wasn’t that hot this year, so it’s quite difficult.”

The results:

Third round: Men: Rafael Nadal bt Nicolas Kiefer 6-2, 6-4; James Blake bt Fabrice Santoro 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4; Tomas Berdych bt Juan-Carlos Ferrero 6-1, 6-3; Guillermo Canas bt Fernando Gonzalez 7-6(6), 7-5; Paul-Henri Mathieu bt Carlos Moya 7-6(1), 7-5; Radek Stepanek bt Xavier Malisse 6-3, 7-6(4); Igor Andreev bt Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4; Dmitry Tursunov bt Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Women: Justine Henin bt Sara Errani 6-2, 6-1; Svetlana Kuznetsova bt Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 7-5, 6-0; Venus Williams bt Marina Erakovic 6-2, 6-1; Elena Vesnina bt Ashley Harkleroad 6-4, 5-7, 6-4; Caroline Wozniacki bt Katarina Srebotnik 2-6, 6-3, 6-1; Dinara Safina bt Sybille Bammer 4-6, 6-1, 6-0; Shahar Peer bt Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-0, 6-2; Zheng Jie bt Amelie Mauresmo 5-7, 6-4, 6-4; Lindsay Davenport bt Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2; Jelena Jankovic bt Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-1; Ai Sugiyama bt Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-5; Kaia Kanepi bt Patty Schnyder 6-0, 6-1; Serena Williams bt Flavia Pennetta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2; Elena Dementieva bt Dominika Cibulkova 6-0, 6-7(1), 6-4; Vera Zvonareva bt Alisa Kleybanova 6-1, 6-4; Sabine Lisicki bt Anna Chakvetadze 7-5, 6-1. — Agencies

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