Photo: Paul ZimmerSerena Williams (USA)
Serena Williams stormed into the Roland Garros final for the first time since she won the tournament in 2002, when she eased past Sara Errani on Thursday. The world No. 1 was relentless throughout the match and won 60 61 in just 46 minutes.
Errani, last year’s finalist, could not find a way to cope with the American’s power and hit only 2 winners, compared to 40 hit by Williams. Serena’s serve wasn’t at its free-flowing best, she only made 52% of her first serves, but Errani could not capitalise and Williams won 82% of her first serves and a staggering 88% of second serves.
The opening game of the match was a sign of things to come as Williams broke to love. She then breezed through the opening set, breaking the Italian’s serve twice more and only dropping two points on her own serve.
The second set started much the same as the first as Serena moved 3-0 ahead but Errani did eventually win a game and duly celebrated. The crowd started chanting her name in an attempt to lift her and prolong the match, but Williams had other ideas. She held serve, then broke the Italian once more to move 5-1 up before comfortably serving the match out to record her 30th consecutive win on the tour.
Her opponent in the final will be Maria Sharapova after she emerged victorious from her semifinal with Victoria Azarenka 61 26 64. Sharapova, the defending champion, started slowly and Azarenka broke in the opening game of the match.
However, Sharapova quickly found her range, breaking straight back, and some deep, powerful hitting saw Sharapova storm through the first set without dropping another game. The Russian hit 14 winners in the first set as Azarenka struggled to cope.
Azarenka, the world No. 3, fought back at the start of the second set and fought off break points for a few crucial holds of serve. Then, at 3-2, the Belarusian stroked a forehand winner past her opponent and sealed a break of serve to lead 4-2 in the set. She held serve before breaking the Sharapova serve once more to level the match up at one set all.
Azarenka had the momentum, but that was halted when rain started to fall. The semifinal was halted for over half an hour and, when the players came back out, it was Sharapova who made the first move.
A beautiful cross-court winner gave her a break to lead 2-1 but then her serve began to unravel. Several double faults in the next game handed the break straight back to Azarenka and the Russian was seething.
If anything, that helped her and she won the next three games to move 5-2 up. She was the serving for the match and was 40-15 up, but the double faults and errors returned. She wasted four match points in the game before being broken. Azarenka then held quickly to put the pressure back on the Sharapova serve.
This time, however, the Sharapova serve did not falter and she clinched victory with an ace, her 12th of the day, outnumbering her double faults by one.
Elsewhere in the tournament, there was joy for the Czech pair of Frantisek Cermak and Lucie Hradecka who won an exciting mixed doubles final 16 64 10-6 over France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Canadian Daniel Nestor.
The Bryan brothers will face Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut in the men’s doubles final. The American twins defeated Austria’s Alexander Peya and Brazil’s Bruno Soares 61 64 in their semifinal. The French pairing of Llodra and Mahut defeated the South American duo of Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 76(4) 62.