French Open: Serena in 4th round, Anastasia upsets Aryna

Seventh-seeded American star Serena Williams on Friday kept here hopes of a 24th singles Grand Slam title alive as she overcame compatriot Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the French Open for the first time in three years here.

In an 85-minute encounter, Serena was tested thoroughly in the second set, when, leading 6-4 and 1-0, Danielle surged into form. The world No.50 won four straight games to take control and looked set to take the match into the decider.

But in a course-changing sixth game, Serena capitalised on a couple of early errors from Danielle to claw back, and went on to win the match.

World No.32 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia upset No.3 seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 to reach the pre-quarterfinals for the second time.

Aryna was the highest-ranked seed remaining in the tournament following the withdrawal of Japan’s Naomi Osaka and the retirement of world No.1 Ashleigh Barty. After Aryna’s loss, Americans No.4 seed Sofia Kenin and No.7 Serena Williams are the only top 10 player remaining in the bottom half of the draw.

Anastasia will meet 15th seed Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, who beat Madion Keys of the USA 6-2, 6-2 in the pre-quarterfinals.

No.21 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan and unseeded 23-year-old Slovenian Tamara Zidansek too secured places in in the pre-quarterfinals for the first time, albeit in contrasting fashion.

Elena smashed 12 aces and struck 26 winners to crush Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-4 while Tamara overcome nerves and a first-set whitewash to defeat Czech Republic’s world No.68 Katerina Siniakova 0-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in one hour and 57 minutes.

Elena will meet Serena, while Tamara will clash with the winner of the match between Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Daria Kasatkina of Russia in pre-quarterfinals.

Anastasia has reached the second week of seven majors in her career, but this is the first time she has reached that stage in Paris since her quarter-final run as a 19-year-old in 2011. It was the 16th top five win for the Russian, and her fourth on the major stage.

Before her victory against Aryna Sabalenka on Friday, 29-year-old Anastasia had got the better of Russian Vera Zvonareva at the 2011 French Open, American Sloane Stephens at the 2019 Australian Open, and Czech Carolina Pliskova at the 2020 Australian Open.