Serena Williams kept rolling at the French Open on Friday. The 3-time champion ousted her countrywoman Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-4 to become the first American to make the fourth round this week.
Serena cruised in the first set but Collins, who was playing her first event since a post-Miami endometriosis surgery, mounted a challenge in the second. The former Virginia standout got up a break and pressed Serena, but some bad errors cost her and Serena regained momentum winning the last five games of the match.
“Things were not going my way,” Serena said of the second set. “It’s not like she gave me those games. I had to earn it and turn it around. That was really positive for me going into the next match.”
Up next will be Elena Rybakina on Sunday. Serena is the highest remaining seed left on the bottom half of the draw.
“There’s still a lot of matches, a lot of great players, as we can see,” said Serena. “There’s so much depth in this game now, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the first round or not, you really have to fight for every match and nothing comes easy.”
Among those remaining are 2-time champion Victoria Azarenka who got by Madison Keys in a battle of former semifinalists. Azarenka could meet Serena in the quarters. The Belarussian will meet Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who bounced an in-form Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 2-6, 6-0.
Sabalenka was among the favorites, but after the loss she still has yet to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“I’m trying to embrace this,” said Pavlyuchenkova after reaching her first Slam week two in 10 years. “I’m enjoying much more now every point the tough matches than I used to before. I guess that also the reason why I’m still here in the second week.
“Also I feel like I’m fitter. Because I’m enjoying playing tennis, I work harder. You work hard, you enjoy the hard work. I think that’s the best combination.”
Former finalist Marketa Vondrousova took down Polona Hercog 6-3, 6-3. Tamara Zidansek and Sorona Cirstea also advanced and in the match of the day, Paula Badosa saved a match point to deny Ana Bogdan 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.
“I think it was a very tough match,” said Badosa. “Very mental, as well. I think it was a little bit of everything, because I think she played an amazing level.
“In one point of the match, I didn’t know what to do. I just know that I had to keep that level and keep fighting until the last moment. Sometimes when the opponent plays like that, you just have the option to keep fighting. That’s what I did.”
On Saturday, the third round wraps with a huge days for American women. Sofia Kenin meets Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff seeks her first win over Australian Open finalist Jen Brady. Former finalist Sloane Stephens meets Karolina Muchova.
Defending champion and tournament favorite Iga Swiatek returns to take on Anett Kontaveit who has beaten the Pol in both their meetings. Elina Svitolina also is in action against Barbora Krejcikova.
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