/ Tennis

Serena Williams' mettle tested in French Open win

Updated: Tuesday, 04 Jun 2013 20:34 | Comments

Serena Williams' only previous French Open title came in 2002
Serena Williams' only previous French Open title came in 2002

Serena Williams is through to the French Open semi-finals for the first time in a decade after overcoming a stern test against Svetlana Kuznetsova at Roland Garros.

The world number one has plenty of baggage in Paris with four last-eight defeats over the last 10 years, including in 2009 against Kuznetsova, who went on to win the title.

Williams had dropped only 10 games on her way to the quarter-finals and was on a run of 28 wins in a row, but she was forced to dig deep to come through 6-1 3-6 6-3.

The world number one admitted afterwards: "Today I was so determined to get through that, and I really, really, really, really wanted it more than I think anyone. So I think that kind of helped. I just was really fighting, giving it everything I have.

"I just got tired of losing in the quarters. It's enough."

Having won the title only once here, 11 years ago, the 31-year-old had left everybody watching in no doubt how much she wants another.

The first set gave no hint of the trouble that was in store for Williams as, after prevailing in a tight first game, she raced through it in only 28 minutes.

Kuznetsova took a medical time-out, receiving lengthy treatment off court, and when she returned she set about changing the course of the match.

The Russian, who has always given Williams a tough time, changed her game plan to focus more on variety and cut out the errors, and it worked.

Having not dropped serve all tournament, the world number one promptly gave it away three times in succession, appearing to tighten up as pressure was applied for the first time this fortnight.

Williams was screaming at herself but she fought back from 5-1 to 5-3, only for Kuznetsova to save five break points and level the match.

The drop shot was working particularly well for Kuznetsova and it helped her take her first set point.

The momentum was with the Russian and Williams' title ambitions were in serious jeopardy when she lost the first two games of the third set as well.

The top seed knew it was now or never, and she needed all her fighting skills to save three break points in the next game.

Kuznetsova finished the final point on the clay and, although she was still ahead, everyone on Court Suzanne Lenglen knew it was a big moment.

Williams promptly levelled at 2-2 and then extended her run of successive games to five. Kuznetsova forced her to serve it out but by now the American was confident and she wrapped up victory with a forehand drive volley.

Williams showed just what the victory meant to her, throwing her hands in the air and letting out a huge scream.

Next the American will play last year's runner-up, Sara Errani, who knocked out fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska for her first ever win over a top-five opponent at the 29th attempt.

It was only here last year, when she eventually lost to Maria Sharapova, that the Italian beat a top-10 player for the first time, and she has gone from strength to strength.

Her match against Radwanska was a contrast to the other quarter-final happening across Roland Garros, with guile and touch the order of the day rather than power.

It was tight all the way through but Errani was always the player forging ahead and, although she could not serve out victory in the second set, she came through on a tie-break to win 6-4 7-6 (8/6).

A modest Errani said: "The match was very close all the time. It was not one thing that made the difference. I was lucky to close the second set, it could have been for her."

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