French Open: Elena Rybakina halts Serena Williams on her tracks; reaches QF

Elena Rybakina stunned seventh seed, Serena Williams, in their fourth-round match at the French Open. The 21st seed won in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in just 77 minutes.

Williams had an underwhelming opening set even as Rybakina made the most of her opportunities. The Kazakh played freely while Williams looked to be under pressure. The opening two service games went easily in the direction of the server but Williams buckled first in the fourth game with Rybakina’s winners prompting a slew of errors from her to lose her serve. Williams’ perseverance paid off in the eighth game as she broke back to bring the set back on serve. However, she was unable to consolidate and was broken right back by Rybakina who, then, consolidated the break by claiming the set.

Williams’ antsy game spilt onto the second set as the former world no. 1 was broken to start the set. However, she rallied back to wrench the break back in the next game. As the set progressed, Williams looked to be getting the timing of her shots right, finding more winners on all parts of the court. On the other hand, Rybakina seemed to have lost traction on her own game with her errors mounting speedily. But once again it was Rybakina who gained the upper hand in the proceedings as she broke Williams in the seventh game. But while trying to consolidate, she was unable to do so and Williams levelled the set at four games apiece.

French Open: Elena Rybakina conquers Serena Williams

As the set moved towards its business end, Rybakina’s shot-making coupled with Williams’ inconsistency began to tell on the latter and she was broken for the third time in the 11th game. In the 12th game, with Rybakina serving for the match, two unforced errors from Williams helped the former bring up two match points while a third allowed her to make good on the first of her double match points.

Williams hit 15 winners to Rybakina’s 21 and had 19 unforced errors to the latter’s 13. This was the first match between the two players. Elena Rybakina’s also the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw at the French Open this year. And, in the quarter-final, will take on 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.