Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

Serena Williams finds her game in time to turn Victoria Azarenka away at French Open

Top-seeded Serena Williams won the final six games to fight off Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday in a third-round French Open match filled with momentum swings and a contentious exchange between the two players.
American Serena Williams fought off Victoria Azarenka’s bid for an upset at the French Open, losing the first set 3-6 before rallying to take the match 6-4, 6-2 at Roland Garros yesterday. Pascal Rossignol / Reuters
American Serena Williams fought off Victoria Azarenka’s bid for an upset at the French Open, losing the first set 3-6 before rallying to take the match 6-4, 6-2 at Roland Garros yesterday. Pascal Rossignol / Reuters

Top-seeded Serena Williams won the final six games to fight off Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday in a third-round French Open match filled with momentum swings and a contentious exchange between the two players.

Azarenka played terrifically for an hour or so, going up a set and 4-2 in the second as Williams grimaced, cursed and flubbed plenty of shots.

But the American started to turn her game around, taking the last four games of that set, with she and Azarenka trading gestures and words over a disputed decision by the chair umpire to replay a point.

After Azarenka took a bathroom break, she came out and took a 2-0 lead in the third set.

She would not win another game.

“Today was not easy because she played very well,” Williams said on court in French. “I needed to play very well. She won the first set and I just said to myself ‘allez, allez Serena, come on’.”

Williams next plays fellow American Sloane Stephens, who defeated Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-1.

Rafael Nadal said his record of nine French Open titles can be beaten, even if fellow Roland Garros legend Gustavo Kuerten said it may take an extraterrestrial to do it.

“Nine in 10 years – I’m sure it will never happen again. It’s impossible,” triple champion Kuerten said. “Rafa – he’s not from this world.”

But Nadal, who stayed on course for a 10th title when he swept into the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 third-round demolition of unseeded Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, insisted that his record is far from secure.

“First of all, I am from this planet, I think,” Nadal said with a smile. “Second thing, thanks to ‘Guga’ for the words. Third thing, it’s true that it is probably a tough record to beat. But at the same time, I tell you one thing, if I did it, somebody else can do it.”

Up next is Jack Sock, the lone American into the last 16 after a convincing win against rising Croatian teenager Borna Coric.

“He’s decent in this tournament,” Sock said in reference to Nadal. “Well, he’s lost one match here. That will be a fun one. I’m not really one to get a whole lot of nerves before big matches.”

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Updated: May 30, 2015 04:00 AM

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