Williams moves into last 16 at French Open as third seed Sabalenka crashes out
Seventh seed Serena Williams advanced to the last 16 at the French Open on Friday following a gritty 6-4, 6-4 victory over her fellow American Danielle Collins.
Williams started with a flourish carving out three break points at 1-1. But Collins saved them and held for 2-1.
Williams got a couple more chances at 3-3. But this time she converted to lead 4-3. She held and had a set point on Collins’ next serve.
But that vanished with her compatriot’s first ace of the match.
Serving for the opener, the 39-year-old lobbed in the drama.
Two consecutive double faults put Williams in trouble at 0-30. She started to dig herself out with a crisp forehand volley and and a fourth forehand winner.
Her fifth ace racked up her second set point and she collected the set after 41 minutes when Collins’ service return flew long.
Williams, who is playing in her 19th French Open, broke at the start of the second set following some diffident hitting from Collins. But the three-time champion returned the favour and it was all square. Williams was more munificent still and Collins broke to lead 3-1. It was soon 4-1.
And just as a third set appeared to be looming, Collins imploded and allowed Williams to notch up four consecutive games.
But serving for the match, the endgame mirrored the conclusion of the opening set.
A fifth double fault and a loose forehand made it 0-30.
But Williams won the next four points to wrap up the match in 84 minutes.
“It was difficult,” said Williams to the on-court interviewer Marion Bartoli. “Danielle is a good player and she made it tough for me to win.”
Elsewhere in the bottom half of the women’s draw, third seed Aryna Sabalenka crashed out following a three-set loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The 31st seed won 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 and avenged the loss in the semi-final at the Madrid Open in May.
“I was fighting on every single point and then I was leading 2-0,” said Pavlyuchenkova of the final set. “That gave me extra energy and I felt better.”
Pavlyuchenkova will next take on the 15th seed Victoria Azarenka after she disposed of the 23rd seed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-2.
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