French Open: Williams survives decider to keep Roland Garros quest alive

By Sports Desk June 02, 2021

Serena Williams took the long route through to round three at the French Open as the veteran battled past Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The American waved the chequered flag at the Monaco Grand Prix 10 days prior to this clash, but there will be no white flag in Paris yet from Williams who dug deep for a 6-3 5-7 6-1 win.

Three times a Roland Garros champion, Williams continued her search for more title-winning form on Court Philippe Chatrier, and a tricky clash with compatriot Danielle Collins will be next for the 39-year-old.

This win improved Williams' second-round record in grand slams to 74-2, her only defeats at this stage having come against sister Venus Williams when Serena made her debut in the majors at the 1998 Australian Open, and against Garbine Muguruza seven years ago at this tournament.

Williams controlled the opening set against Buzarnescu, but the Romanian world number 174 was a wily opponent and began to ask plenty of questions of the 23-time grand slam winner.

Having been as high as number 20 in the rankings, Buzarnescu was not intimidated. In 2018, she beat top-10 players Jelena Ostapenko and Elina Svitolina – twice, in Svitolina's case – and the 33-year-old broke to lead 4-2, with Williams recovering from 0-40 before netting a forehand followed by a backhand as the pressure told.

Williams broke back, yelling "Come on!" to rally herself, and she had two break chances again at 5-5, but could take neither.

Buzarnescu was the first to have a set point and an eye-catching cross-court backhand forced the decider.

Tension briefly filled the air but it soon drifted away, Williams taking command with an immediate break followed by another to lead 4-0, the decider going her way emphatically.

"She has a lot of skills," Williams said of Buzarnescu. "She plays really well on this surface in particular. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I'm excited to get through there. It was good competition."

DATA SLAM: LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN?

Williams lives to fight another day and perhaps a good workout will give her the confidence to come through battles that lie ahead. That record-equalling 24th slam remains a possibility this fortnight. Collins is next, a player Williams narrowly beat when they met at the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne earlier this year, their one previous meeting. Serena has won two of her previous grand slams as the seventh seed before – at the 1999 US Open and the 2005 Australian Open.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 26/27
Buzarnescu – 25/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 5/2
Buzarnescu – 0/7

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/14
Buzarnescu – 2/7

Related items

  • Arteta hails Arsenal resilience as crucial Chelsea clash looms Arteta hails Arsenal resilience as crucial Chelsea clash looms

    Mikel Arteta has praised Arsenal for showing resilience during a difficult period and described his players as a "joy to work with" ahead of a crucial week in the Premier League title race. 

    All three title contenders – Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City – are in action twice this week, with the Gunners taking on Chelsea and Tottenham in two huge London derbies.

    They returned to the top of the table with Saturday's 2-0 win over injury-hit Wolves, but with City possessing a game in hand, the destination of the trophy remains out of their hands. 

    Following a difficult few days in which Arsenal surrendered control of the title race and exited the Champions League against Bayern Munich, Arteta was delighted with their response at Molineux. 

    "If you look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played, their effort is unquestionable and the results are something else," Arteta said.

    "It's a joy to work with them, and it makes us realise we want to be involved in the big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League with the level that it requires."

    Chelsea's ambitions, meanwhile, are limited to securing qualification for either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League, with their hopes of silverware being dashed on Saturday. 

    They were guilty of spurning several golden opportunities in their 1-0 defeat to City at Wembley Stadium, with their wait for a first trophy under the Todd Boehly regime being extended.

    Mauricio Pochettino, though, is choosing to take the positives from that game as the Blues bid to draw level with Newcastle United and Manchester United in the table on Tuesday.  

    "Now we need to take the positive things from the game," Pochettino said. "This group of players needs these types of moments and games.

    "Now is the time to finish the season in the best way and then see how we can do better next season."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    Arsenal – Leandro Trossard

    Trossard scored in October's reverse fixture as Arsenal fought back from 2-0 down to clinch a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, and he has provided an invaluable source of goals from the left wing in recent games, with Gabriel Jesus struggling.

    The former Brighton and Hove Albion man is enjoying his most prolific Premier League campaign, with nine goals, and only Bukayo Saka (14) has netted more for the Gunners this term.

    Chelsea – Nicolas Jackson

    Jackson missed several clear-cut chances as Chelsea failed to make the breakthrough against City at Wembley on Saturday, and he is perhaps running out of chances to show he can be the Blues' long-term solution in that number nine role.

    Jackson's 10 Premier League goals this season have come from a total of 13.98 expected goals (xG), giving him an underperformance of -3.98. Only Dominic Calvert Lewin (-5.98) and Darwin Nunez (-4.1) have underperformed their underlying numbers by a greater margin.

    MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN

    Arsenal have only lost one of their last eight Premier League games against Chelsea (five wins, two draws), going unbeaten through their last four against them. That is their longest such streak versus the Blues since they went 19 matches against them without defeat between 1995 and 2005.

    Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games (four wins, four draws) and have scored multiple goals in each of their last six. However, that run could come to a halt at the Emirates, with Arsenal possessing a strong record in the biggest games this term.

    City and Liverpool have already left north London defeated this season, and Arsenal have not lost back-to-back home Premier League games since April 2022. Chelsea should be competitive, but the Gunners cannot afford to miss this chance to pull clear of their rivals. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Arsenal 51%

    Chelsea 22.5%

    Draw 26.5%

  • Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025 Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025

    Boris Becker says he is “working hard with the authorities” to return to the UK and Wimbledon in 2025.

    The three-time Wimbledon men’s singles champion was deported from the UK in December 2022 after serving eight months of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for hiding £2.5m of assets and loans in a bankruptcy fraud case.

    Becker cannot return to the UK until October 2024 at the earliest following his deportation, but the 56-year-old German plans to return to the tournament he says is “in my DNA” as soon as possible.

    “Wimbledon has been my favourite tournament as a player, coach and commentator,” Becker said at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid.

    “It’s unique, you can’t compare it.

    “I lived in Wimbledon a long time so I’m working hard with the authorities to have all the applications ready to be back for next year. We’re working on 2025.

    “It’s a part of my life. It’s in my DNA, you can’t deny that.”

    Asked if he would be back in the Wimbledon commentary box, Becker replied: “I hope so.”

    Becker has not been involved in tennis since stepping down as Holger Rune’s head coach at the start of February.

    The pair spent less than four months together, but in that time the 20-year-old qualified for the ATP finals in Italy.

    ::The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards take place on Monday evening in Madrid. To find out more, and follow the ceremony, visit www.laureus.com

  • Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza announces retirement Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza announces retirement

    Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza has announced her retirement from tennis.

    The 30-year-old Spaniard won the French Open in 2016 before lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish on Centre Court the following summer but she had not played a competitive match since January 2023.

    At a press conference where she was announced as a Laureus Ambassador, Muguruza said: “If 25 years ago, when I started hitting my first tennis balls, someone had told me that I would become a professional tennis player, that I would fulfil my dream of winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon, that I would become number one in the world and win the WTA Finals, I would have thought this person was crazy.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Women’s Tennis Association (@wta)

    “Tennis has given me a lot in this first part of my life. It has been a fantastic journey in which I have experienced unique situations. I have travelled all over the world and experienced many different cultures.

    “I am tremendously grateful to all the people who have helped and accompanied me throughout this chapter, because without them I would not have been able to get here.

    “I have grown and matured in a very different way than what can be considered normal, and now I am ready to start a new chapter in my life, which will surely be linked in some way to tennis and sports.

    “I hope that my collaboration with Laureus Sport for Good is the beginning of many more projects in which I can dedicate myself and help young people through sport.”

    Muguruza turned professional in 2012 and reached her first grand slam final three years later at Wimbledon, where she was beaten by Serena Williams.

    But the big-hitting Spaniard took revenge in 2016 when she stunned Williams in the final at Roland Garros, and a year later she beat Venus Williams to add the Wimbledon trophy to her collection.

    She climbed to the top of the rankings in September 2017, where she stayed for four weeks, but consistency was not Muguruza’s strong point and she slipped down the standings before a resurgence in 2020.

    Muguruza reached her fourth grand slam final at the Australian Open, losing to American Sofia Kenin, and she returned to the world’s top three at the end of 2021 after winning the WTA Finals for the first time.

    But the next season saw her plummet back down the rankings and her retirement comes as no surprise given her long hiatus from the sport.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.