Serena Williams rallies past Danielle Collins to reach fourth round of French Open


Serena Williams employed verbal motivation to help her recover from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to post a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow American Danielle Collins in the third round of the French Open on Friday.

Yelling, “C’mon,” and, “Move your feet,” Williams started dominating again with big serves and crushed returns that the 50th-ranked Collins had no answer for.

“That felt really good for me,” Williams said. “Things were not going my way. It’s not like she gave me those games. I had to earn it and turn it around. That was really positive for me going into the next match.

“I needed to find me and know who I am,” Williams added. “Nobody is Serena out here. It’s me. It’s pretty cool.”

The turnaround was also evidenced in Collins’ body language and conversations with herself. The Floridian, who grew up emulating the Williams sisters and playing on public courts just like they did, let her racket drop from her hands and then kicked it away in frustration after missing one particularly important shot. Collins also sarcastically said, “That’s excellent,” after shanking another shot following a long rally that appeared to conclude with an awkward bounce in the final game.

Williams needed three sets to get by Mihaela Buzarnescu in the previous round and clearly did not want to go the distance again this time, even when a series of untimely double-faults early in the second set enabled Collins to win four consecutive games.

Williams’ determination was also witnessed during the first set, when she ran down a drop shot from behind the court and won the point to break for a 4-3 lead.

Still chasing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, Williams next faces Elena Rybakina, who defeated Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for the first time at a major.

The early departure of seeded players in the women’s tournament continued Friday at the French Open as third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka was upset by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the clay-court Grand Slam.

The women’s side at Roland Garros is now without its top three seeds after Sabalenka lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-0.

Sabalenka had been the highest remaining seed after top-ranked Ash Barty retired from her second-round match injured on Thursday. Second-seeded Naomi Osaka withdrew after the first round, saying she is taking a break from competition for mental health reasons.

The fourth-seeded Sofia Kenin is now the highest-seeded player in the fray.

Pavlyuchenkova had lost to Sabalenka in straight sets in the Madrid semifinals last month. This time, she made the most of her rival’s erratic display — Sabalenka hit 39 unforced errors — to reach the fourth round for the first time since she made it to the quarterfinals in Paris a decade ago.

“That was a while ago,” she said. “I’m enjoying much more now every point [in] the tough matches than I used to before. I guess that also [is] the reason why I’m still here in the second week.”

Her next opponent will be Victoria Azarenka, who beat 23rd-seeded Madison Keys 6-2, 6-2 in 70 minutes. The two-time Grand Slam champion reached the fourth round for the first time since her semifinal run in 2013.

Azarenka had played only one match on clay this season entering Roland Garros. She had withdrawn from the Madrid Open after her first-round win there due to a back injury.

Unseeded Tamara Zidansek also advanced, reaching the second week at a major for the first time.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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