It was a banner day for U.S. women’s tennis, which went 3-0 on Saturday at the French Open as Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Madison Keys moved into the fourth round. But it was not without its struggles.
The world No. 1 Serena Williams could not find her game yet muddled through a 6-4, 7-6(10) win over No. 26-seeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.
“I feel like I made a tremendous amount of errors,” said Williams, who converted only one of 12 break point opportunities. “I was playing really defensive. It’s not me. Those break points, most of them I should have won and I didn’t.”
Serena will next face the surging No. 18 seed Elina Svitolina, who derailed a Williams meeting with former No. 1 and No. 14 seed Ana Ivanovic, who fell to Svitolina 6-4, 6-4.
“I think it was better mentality than other matches before, the other seven matches,” said Svitolina, who ended a seven-match losing streak against Ivanovic, and now has former No. 1 Justine Henin as a coach on her team. “And the game, I was really confident today. I don’t know. Just everything was right. Today I was doing right things. Even missing bad shots, I was trying to stay positive and to play my tennis.”
The No. 9-seeded Venus swept aside talk of her early demise with a grinding 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-0 win over crowd favorite Alize Cornet of France, getting up early in the third set and never looking back, despite a warning from the chair umpire accusing her of cheating with signals to her coach in the crowd.
“I had some luck in the end on the important points, and I’m so excited to be in the next round,” said the upbeat elder Williams, who will next face No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky, who beat France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-2. “I’ve had some issues in the past, but what can you do? Every year is different, and I’m trying to make this year my best yet.”
The No. 15 seed Keys beat Monica Puig 7-6(3), 6-3, lining up a meeting with the unseeded streaking Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, who upset No. 29 seed Darya Kasatkina 6-2, 3-6, 10-8.
Keys is in the midst of a career-best claycourt season and is in the round of 16 for the first time at Roland Garros.
“I definitely wanted to keep doing everything that I was really doing well in Rome,” said Keys, who lost in the Rome final to Serena Williams. “Obviously I played really well there, so today I don’t think I played extremely well all of the time, but being able to figure it out, I think that’s where having a lot of matches really helped me…It was always a goal mine to make second week [at a Slam], and then once I made second week the first time it became achievable, and then it became something that I wanted to do all of the time just to have the consistency.”
No. 12 seed Carla Suarez Navarro fought through physical issues to beat No. 22 Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, setting up a fourth-round encounter with unseeded Yulia Putintseva, who beat Karin Knapp 6-1, 6-1.
Matches to look for on Sunday at Roland Garros are (4) Garbine Muguruza vs. (13) Svetlana Kuznetsova, (6) Simona Halep vs. (21) Sam Stosur, (25) Irina-Camelia Begu vs. Shelby Rogers, and (2) Aggie Radwanska vs. Tsvetana Pironkova.
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