French Open: Serena Williams stumbles but recovers to reach third round

World no. 8 Serena Williams overcame a stiff challenge from Mihaela Buzarnescu in their round-of-64 meeting at the French Open on Wednesday. After 123 minutes of play, Williams won 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 over the Romanian.

Buzarnescu stayed the course with Williams for the first six games of the opening set. However, Williams’ patience paid off in the eighth game as she broke the Romanian to go up 5-3 in the set. A game later, the 23-time Grand Slam champion consolidated the break by taking the opening set 6-3.

Williams didn’t face a single break point in the opening set while converting just the once. She hit 10 winners and had five unforced errors. Buzarnescu, on the other hand, had six winners and unforced errors apiece. However, the American finished the set strongly with 31 points to Buzarnescu’s 18.

French Open: Mihaela Buzarnescu’s resilience against Serena Williams

The second set was quite a contrast to the opener. Williams looked like she had the upper hand in the set and even had a few chances to break Buzarnescu on two separate occasions – in the fifth and in the 11th game of the set. However, she was thwarted in both games by the Romanian. As it turned out, Williams’ own serve came under pressure in the immediately succeeding games. She was broken in the sixth game on her fourth break point. But while Williams was able to get the break back in the seventh game, she wasn’t able to do so the second time around and Buzarnescu was able to make good on the first set point that came her way in the 12th game.

The loss of the second set seemed to spur Williams on in the decider and the American quickly built a 4-0 lead over the Romanian. Buzarnescu was able to grab a foothold in the match in the fifth game but by then it was too late for her to make a comeback. She did trouble Williams on the latter’s service game in the sixth game and extended it to 30-all but Williams closed out the game thereafter. In the seventh game, with Buzarnescu serving to stay in the match, the American claimed the win on the first of her three match points.

Williams ended with 26 winners and 25 unforced errors. Buzarnescu near-similar numbers with 25 winners and 28 unforced errors. The seventh seed won 75% of her first-serve points to the Romanian’s 61% and 60% off her second serves to her opponent’s 46%.

In the third round at the French Open, Serena Williams will now face fellow American Danielle Collins.