Williams Overcomes Serve Woes and Kuznetsova in Paris

Women’s top seed Serena Williams overcame losing her serve four times as she beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets to move to the French Open semifinals.

Williams of the U.S. defeated the unseeded Russian, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 on a gusty Court Suzanne Lenglen at Roland Garros in Paris.

“It was difficult match today, I am so tired,” the 2002 champion said in a courtside interview in French after she won the match with a forehand volley drive. “I’m not surprised she played so well, because she has won here before. I’m just so happy to win a quarterfinal here, it hasn’t happened in a few years.”

Williams plays Sara Errani in the semifinals. The No. 5 seed from Italy earlier today beat fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) on the main Court Philippe Chatrier.

“Sara is such a great fighter, she was a finalist last year,” Williams said.

Switzerland’s No. 2 seed Roger Federer is playing France’s No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a men’s quarterfinal, while No. 4 David Ferrer meets fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo.

Williams took control at the start of the match, winning the first set in 28 minutes as she twice broke serve and fired 15 winners.

The momentum shifted in the second set, with the 2009 champion breaking the American’s serve for the first time in the tournament in the opening game after she’d gone off court for a few minutes with the trainer for a medical timeout. Kuznetsova went up a double break as Williams’ first-serve win percentage dipped to 50 percent in the second set from 74 percent in the first, causing her to shout at friends and family in her seats.

Second Set

After clawing back one break, Williams dropped serve for a third straight time as Kuznetsova took a 5-1 lead. Spraying errors from the baseline, Williams swore at herself before regaining her composure and breaking serve for the second time.

Serving for the set at 5-3, Kuznetsova fended off four breakpoints. She forced the match into a final set with a backhand drop shot, which Williams got to on time, yet dumped in the net.

In the third set, Williams rallied from 0-2 down to 4-2 as her intensity increased. She clenched her fist and shouted “Come On” to her box with her mother Oracene Price and coaching consultant Patrick Mouratoglou as she broke for 3-2 with a forehand winner deep in the corner. Williams moved to her first semifinal in Paris in a decade with her 37th winner of the match. Kuznetsova had 19 winners.

Williams, at 31 the oldest top-ranked woman, had entered Roland Garros as the 5-4 favorite to win her second French Open title, according to U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc. That means a successful $4 bet will return $5 plus the original wager. Today’s victory extends her career-best win streak to 29 matches, included victories on red clay in Madrid and Rome.

Williams’ opening loss in Paris last year to then 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano -- her earliest in a Grand Slam -- triggered a run back to the top spot in women’s tennis.

Since then, Williams lifted her Grand Slam single championship tally to 15 by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, added the season-ending WTA Championships, and took gold medals in singles and doubles at the London Olympics. She’s only lost three matches in the past twelve months.

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