Paris: Serena Williams survived another French Open scare as the top seed was tested to the full by American compatriot Sloane Stephens on court Philippe Chatrier yesterday.
Serena Williams exults after winning a point against compatriot Sloane Stephens during the French Open fourth round yesterday
With second seed Maria Sharapova tumbling out of the tournament earlier in the day, that should have given Williams extra motivation in the hunt for a third Roland Garros title.
Sloane Stephens returns to Serena Williams. Pics/AFP
However, the top seed instead struggled to a 1-6 7-5 6-3 fourth-round victory in two hours against her 22-year-old opponent.
It was an admirable effort by Stephens, however, who fell just short of completing the ‘double’ over the Williams family having knocked out sister Venus in the opening round.
Stephens, who was hammered by Williams on clay in Madrid last month, had never progressed beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros before but must have felt her luck was changing when she secured the opening set in just 23 minutes. The world number 40 outshone her illustrious opponent who, at times, seemed to be running on empty as shot after shot raced past her on the way to being broken three times.
Williams was not helped by 15 unforced errors but there were signs of improvement in the second set as the first six games went with serve.
Stephens then fought off four break points in game seven as Williams finally found something in the tank, but a fifth fell in favour of the world number one as she edged ahead for the first time in the match
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>> Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) bt Andreea Mitu (ROM) 6-1, 6-3
>> Garbine Muguruza (ESP x21) bt Flavia Pennetta (ITA x28) 6-3, 6-4
Women’s quarter-finals head-to-head
>> Serena Williams leads Sara Errani Williams 7-0
>> Ana Ivanovic leads Elina Svitolina 6-0
>> Garbine Muguruza vs Lucie Safarova (first meeting)