Serena Williams powers into French Open fourth round to boost record hopes

Elsewhere there were wins for Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev.

Serena Williams reacts to her third-round victory.
Serena Williams reacts to her third-round victory.
Image: Christophe Ena

SERENA WILLIAMS SENT out a warning to the rest of the depleted women’s draw on Friday with a dominant straight-sets win over Danielle Collins to reach the French Open last 16 for the first time since 2018.

The 39-year-old, still one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, saw off fellow American Collins 6-4, 6-4.

“Today it was very difficult, but I played well, stayed concentrated. I’m very happy,” said the three-time Roland Garros winner.

Williams is now the highest seed left in her half of the draw, with all of the world’s top four absent from the second week.

She will next face Kazakh 21st seed Elena Rybakina, with a potential quarter-final against old rival Victoria Azarenka up for grabs.

Williams, seeded eighth, had a slight scare in the second set when she fell 1-4 behind against 2020 quarter-finalist Collins, but won the next five games to secure victory.

When Williams last made the fourth round three years ago, she withdrew injured before a scheduled clash with Maria Sharapova.

The former world number one also pulled out last year following the opening round, but she looks in strong form this time around, despite sporting some strapping on her right thigh.

Williams thundered down five aces and hit 22 winners against Collins, winning in just 85 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Elsewhere, Daniil Medvedev wasted little time in booking his place in the French Open fourth round for the first time on Friday, brushing aside American Reilly Opelka in straight sets.

The Russian second seed, who had lost in the first round on each of his four previous French Open appearances, won the last-32 encounter 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

“I’m playing some great tennis,” said Medvedev. “I want to maintain my level and win more matches.”

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The 25-year-old, a two-time Grand Slam runner-up, will take on either Marcos Giron of the United States or Chilean Cristian Garin in the last 16.

German sixth seed Alexander Zverev, meanwhile, eased into the French Open last 16 for the fourth successive year on Friday with a straight-sets win over Serbia’s Laslo Djere.

The 24-year-old, last year’s US Open runner-up, saw off the 55th-ranked Djere 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The comfortable nature of victory was welcome for Zverev, who had fought back from two sets down to beat unheralded compatriot Oscar Otte in round one before edging three tight sets against Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin.

© – AFP, 2021

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