French Open: Serena Williams survives Danielle Collins test to reach pre-quarters

World no. 8 Serena Williams advanced to the second week at the French Open with a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow countrywoman, Danielle Collins. Williams needed an hour and 24 minutes to complete the victory, in a match that was marked by sharp twists and turns.

The opening set was all about Williams’ vacillations against her fellow American. Collins did get a couple of points on Williams’ serve but good serving coupled with well-timed shots helped the former world no. 1 extricate herself from potentially dangerous situations. She, on the contrary, had plenty of chances against Collins from the early moments of the set.

Williams had two break points in the third game of the set but Collins saved them both following an error and a forced error from Williams. A few games later, Williams had two more opportunities to take the lead and this time, she didn’t let these chances go to go up 4-3 in the set. Williams got the first of her two set points in the ninth game on Collins’ serve but wasn’t able to convert. In the 10th game, while trying to serve out the set, two consecutive double faults put Williams 0-30 on the scoreboard before she tilted it right with two powerful winners. Finally, on her second set point, Williams pocketed the set after having drawn out an error from Collins.

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The 23-time Grand Slam champion carried forward the momentum of the first set into the second and broke Collins in the first game of the set. However, from that moment on, the momentum of the match shifted towards Collins. She broke back Williams to level the set at one-game-all and then won the next three games to go up 4-1 in the set. But the set was far from finished as Williams began her comeback endeavour.

She first broke the run of Collins’ three straight games by holding her serve for the first time in the set in the sixth game. A break back in the seventh game followed by a consolidation allowed her to bring the score at par, at four-all. A third break of Collins’ serve in the ninth game then helped Williams take the lead in the set for the first time. In the 10th game, while trying to serve for the match, Williams found herself in a spot of bother again as she trailed her opponent 0-30 but as in the first set, a couple of winners and errors from Collins helped her redirect the score in her direction and bring up the first match point which she made good of, with an ace down the T to notch the win.

The seventh seed had 22 winners to Collins’ 18 and finished with 21 unforced errors to her compatriot’s 21. In the lower section of the draw, Williams is the highest seed remaining following the exit of third seed Aryna Sabalenka.

In the fourth round at the French Open, Williams will now play 21st seed Elena Rybakina. The Kazakh ended the comeback run of Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-4 in their third-round clash.