x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Serena races into Paris quarter-finals

The world No 2 Serena Williams demolished Aleksandra Wozniak 6-1, 6-2, setting up a quarter-final clash against seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The big-hitting American Serena Williams made short work of her match against Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak today.
The big-hitting American Serena Williams made short work of her match against Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak today.

William Johnson Serena Williams yesterday did what she has done often during a career which has brought 10 grand slam titles - raised her game at the business end of a tournament. The powerful American, outshone so far at the French Open by the top-seeded Russian Dinara Safina, went up a couple of gears to demolish her Canadian opponent Aleksandra Wozniak, ranked a respectable 24th in the world. Wozniak, who admitted to being stage-struck on her first appearance on Court Philippe Chatrier, lasted only 53 minutes as the world No 2 roared into the quarter-finals 6-1, 6-2. Williams, who had been taken the distance in two of her previous three matches here, was in no mood to waste any more energy than she needed. "I didn't set out to have such a short match but it just worked out that way," she said. "I feel it was my most focused match so far and it needed to be. This is where it counts. I knew I had to pick up my level." Serena appreciates that she will have to improve even more when she takes on the seventh-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is more at home on clay than any other surface even though her solitary grand slam triumph came on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows five years ago. "Svetlana is playing really well at the moment and will go into the match with high expectations - as I am," added Williams, who reported that the injury which hampered her preparations for the tournament is easing by the day. Kuznetsova was less emphatic than Williams in booking her quarter-final place. Having conceded only 11 games in reaching the last 16, she had her hands full against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska before dominating the deciding set to go through 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. Kuznetsova is one of three Russians in the quarter-finals, accompanying the world No 1 Safina and former world No 1 Maria Sharapova, who continues her steady return to action after nearly 10 months on the sidelines due to shoulder problems. Sharapova's lack of match fitness led to her surrendering the second set against China's Li Na to recharge the batteries and carve out an encouraging 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 passage into a clash today with Dominika Cibulka, of Slovakia. "I'm a little sore, but I'll be fine," said Sharapova who needs a French title to complete her haul of the four majors. That's why the grand slams are great. You have a day in between, day to recover, and that always helps the body." Sharapova was particularly pleased with the way her serving arm has held up to the demands put on it in Paris. "My serve actually pulled me through this match," she reflected after beating Li Na for the fifth time. "That's a good sign for me." wjohnson@thenational.ae