Serena Williams advances to fourth round at French Open

Jun 2, 2021; Paris, France; Serena Williams (USA) in action during her match against Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) on day four of the French Open at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Serena Williams rallied from a three-game deficit in the second set to dispatch fellow American Danielle Collins on Friday in the third round of the French Open in Paris.

The seventh-seeded Williams continued her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title with a 6-4, 6-4 win. She challenged herself audibly and delivered, overcoming a 4-1 deficit in the second set to win the match in 85 minutes.

Williams, 39, fired five aces to advance and set up a match against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, who posted a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Russian Elena Vesnina.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a 31st-seeded Russian, recorded the upset of the day with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 victory over third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Pavlyuchenkova avenged a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Sabalaenka in the Madrid semifinals last month by taking advantage of her 39 unforced errors by her foe.

“I know it’s a cliché,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I was the first one to laugh at this – players would say, ‘I’m going to go and enjoy out there.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, right. Go enjoy, of course, good luck.’

“Now I actually do that. Even today on the court, apart from having pain in my knee and my leg, I was enjoying. I’m trying to embrace this. I’m enjoying much more now every point the tough matches than I used to before. I guess that’s also the reason why I’m still here in the second week.”

The top three seeds in the women’s draw are no longer competing in the tournament. Top-ranked Ash Barty of Australia retired following her second-round match Thursday and second-seeded Naomi Osaka of Japan withdrew after the first round, citing mental health reasons.

Pavlyuchenkova advanced to face 15th-seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, who secured a 6-2, 6-2 win over 23rd-seeded Madison Keys in 70 minutes.

Unseeded Tamara Zidansek rallied to a 0-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, and Romanian Sorana Cirstea cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Russian Daria Kasatkina to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time since 2009.

–Field Level Media