Paris, Jun 2 (EFE).- American great Serena Williams took another step in her quest to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam women’s singles title, defeating Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 on Wednesday to advance to the third round of the French Open.
The three-time Roland Garros champion made her move midway through the first set, earning a break to take a 5-3 lead and then clinching the opener a game later when a deep backhand forced the Romanian southpaw into an error.
Buzarnescu, a former top-20 player who is now ranked No. 174, continued to run and battle, however, and sent the match to a decider when she broke Williams’ serve thanks to an outstanding crosscourt backhand on set point.
But it was all Serena in the final set, as she raced out to a 4-0 lead and then clinched the victory with one last potent backhand into the corner that Buzarnescu was unable to return.
The 39-year-old Williams said afterward that she was particularly pleased with her serve after struggling with that all-important shot on Monday night.
“I felt it was pretty good today,” the eighth-ranked American said afterward. “But I’ve been practicing my serve a lot. I’ve been playing in practice unbelievable on my serve. The other night was, wow. I’m glad it came better today.”
Next up for Serena in the third round will be fellow American Danielle Collins, who cruised past Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina 6-0, 6-2.
In other action involving a pre-tournament favorite in women’s singles, fourth-ranked Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka topped countrywoman Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5, 6-3.
Sabalenka, who announced her intentions at Roland Garros with an impressive run to the Madrid Open title last month, was frustrated by Sasnovich’s defense and consistency in the first set but ultimately had too much firepower for her 103rd-ranked opponent.
Williams and Sabalenka are in the same quarter of the draw and could meet next week in a potential blockbuster last-eight encounter at tennis’ premier clay-court event. EFE