World No. 1 Serena Williams will take the court for a third straight day at the French Open on Friday when she meets surprise unseeded semifinalist Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.
The American, still trying to capture that elusive 22nd Grand Slam title, found herself down a set to Zazakh Yulia Putintseva before scraping out a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 win.
“I just kept hitting balls out,” Williams said. “I just wasn’t firing the way I wanted to. I definitely knew I needed to do something different if I was going to stay in the tournament. Honestly, at one point I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The 34-year-old at one point in the second set was a handful of points away from exiting.
“I always try to have a plan B and C and go from there,” Williams said. “In the beginning of the second set I started playing better, but then I let her come back. I was not the most positive mentally, but obviously I didn’t want to stop.”
Williams sprayed 43 unforced errors to 16 for Putintseva.
Bertens on Thursday upended No. 8 seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 7-5, 6-2.
“I am just going to go out there and have fun again and give my all,” said Bertens, who is on a 12-match winning streak.
Bertens took a key medical timeout between sets, which seeming to unhinge Bacsinszky who lost four straight games.
Friday will feature both women’s semifinals, (1) Williams vs. Bertens, and (4) Garbine Muguruza vs. (21) Sam Stosur.
Williams beat Bertens in their only career meeting at last year’s US Open 7-6(5), 6-3. Stosur won her only career meeting with Muguruza at Madrid in 2014 in three sets.
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