Serena Williams confidently qualified for the fourth round of Roland Garros with a 6-4 6-4 loss to fellow American Danielle Collins on Friday as the draw opened seductively.
The 39-year-old seventh seed produced a calm and composed display against a dangerous opponent and is now the highest-ranked player in the bottom half. Williams, chasing a record 24th Grand Slam singles title, but for the first time since 2017, will face Kazakhstan’s 21st seed Elena Rybakina for a place in the quarter-finals.
A hard-hitting contest brought together 40 winners as Collins made it clear his best policy was to fight fire with fire on Philippe Chatrier court. It seemed to work when she took a 4-1 lead in the second set, but Williams’ response was emphatic as she cranked up the volume and power to return to victory.
“It was really good for me,” said Williams of his rushing arrival. “Things were not going my way. It’s not like she gave me those games. I had to win it and reverse it. It was really positive for me going into the next game.”
Collins signaled her intention with two clinical setback winners in the opener, but found herself struggling at 1-1, 0-40 before fighting to hold. Williams broke the serve at 3-3 when she showed great acceleration to chase a dropshot, then brisk reactions to deflect a volley from Collins’ pass attempt.
Collins showed the courage to save a set point at 3-5 and Williams then faltered on serve at 5-4 with consecutive double faults before recovering to seal the opener with an ace. When Williams broke early in the second set, it looked like she might get away with the contest, but Collins, 50th in the standings, found other gear to go four games in a row as the errors began to creep in. slip into Williams’ game.
Pulling back 1-4, Williams responded by cranking up the decibel level, berating herself even after gaining points, and suddenly she started firing at full blast again. “I needed to find myself, to know who I am. No one else is Serena here. It’s me. That’s pretty cool,” Serena said of how she took over the game. control of the match.
Collins, 27, started to look ragged and gave up service to love at 4-4 before Williams claimed the win to reach the last 16 in Paris for the 13th time. Despite his three titles at Roland Garros, clay is not always considered the best surface for Williams.
She clearly enjoys being back in Paris. “I love sliding. I love speed. I feel like I have a little more time for, like, just going to the balls, hitting them,” she said.
So far she’s hitting them pretty well and with people like Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, Garbine Muguruza and Aryna Sabalenka all gone and Simona Halep having been ruled out for injury, her outlook is improving day by day.
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