Williams, Murray continue strong play at French Open
PARIS -- World No. 1 and defending champion Serena Williams fought her way into the French Open final on Friday.The American moved one victory from her 22nd Grand Slam title, beating Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 7-6 (7), 6-4 in the semifinals ...
PARIS - World No. 1 and defending champion Serena Williams fought her way into the French Open final on Friday.
The American moved one victory from her 22nd Grand Slam title, beating Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 7-6 (7), 6-4 in the semifinals at Roland Garros.
“The first set wasn’t easy,” Williams said in French during her on-court interview. “I needed to play better because she was playing very well, but I’m very happy to win today.”
In the final on Saturday, Williams will face No. 4 Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who advanced by defeating 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-4.
Bertens was leading 7-6 in the tiebreaker of the first set and had another chance to claim the set but missed a forehand. Williams then drove a return winner, followed by a forehand winner for the set.
Bertens broke again to start the second set and stayed with Williams throughout the one hour, 40-minute match even as her lead disappeared. The 34-year-old Williams served it out in the end with little difficulty to set up a rematch of the 2015 Wimbledon final won by Williams against Muguruza.
Williams leads Muguruza 3-1 in head-to-head, but the Spaniard’s one win came at the French Open when she stunned the top seed in the second round in 2014.
“I don’t think my mindset is any different,” Williams said. “Obviously I want to do well, and I would like to win (Saturday). I think Muguruza has been playing really well. She’s been playing a really aggressive game and going for her shots. Regardless, I think it will be a good match. I mean, last time we played here in France she was able to win the match.
“I learned so much from that match. You know, I hate to lose, but when I do, you know, I hope it was worth it. That match was definitely one of those that was kind of needed and worth it.”
Williams aims to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 major championships on Saturday. Only Margaret Court, with 24, has won more.
Muguruza raced out to a 4-0 lead against Stosur, taking the opening set in 33 minutes.
The second set was more of the same as Muguruza displayed the efficient clay court game that had taken her to the quarterfinals the last two years with another double break advantage.
“She and I are players who like dictating the game,” Muguruza said about herself and Williams. “There will be moments when she’ll be dominating, and maybe at times I will be dominating. I think I can be a tough opponent too.”
Men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia earned another chance to win the only Grand Slam that has eluded him with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 semifinal victory against Dominic Thiem of Austria in one hour and 48 minutes.
Djokovic will face Andy Murray of Scotland, who set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in Paris on Sunday by beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
“It’s another Grand Slam title up for grabs for both Andy and myself,” Djokovic said. “One thing I know I can expect when I get on the court with him is it’s going to be a very physical battle.”
Should Djokovic win on Sunday, he would become the eighth man in history to win all four Grand Slams, joining Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Don Budge and Fred Perry.
Djokovic also will be attempting to win a fourth consecutive major title, something that hasn’t been done by a man since Laver nearly a half-century ago in 1969.
Murray is the first British player through to the final in Paris since Bunny Austin in 1937.
“Looking forward to the final,” Murray said. “I’m extremely proud.”