This Thursday, Serena Williams played the toughest match of her 2016 French Open campaign, being just two games away from defeat against determined and inspired Yulia Putintseva, but the Kazakh failed to convert break points when she had an opportunity to level the score late in the second set and you know how the American starts rolling when her opponents don't capitalize on their chances.
The 21-year-old Putintseva displayed spectacular tennis in her quarterfinal encounter with Williams, opened it with a 3-1 lead and although she allowed the reigning champion to recover, Williams' out-of-control 24 unforced errors to Putintseva's mere two, put the first set into Putintseva's hands.
The crucial moment of the match happened at Williams' 5-4 lead in the second set, when Putintseva had several break points, but her groundstrokes were not precise enough and Williams was lucky to win the set and prolong the match.
We're used to Williams demolishing her opponents who don't grab the rare opportunities the 21-time Grand Slam champion occasionally gives, and when you look at the score that's exactly what happened, as Williams won the third set 6-1. However, the decider was more thrilling than the scoreline suggests, as Putintseva never stopped fighting, not even at 5-0 down, and trailing 5-1 40-0, the inspired Kazakh impressively saved three consecutive match points. Of course, in important moments aces are never too far from Serena, and the American finished the match with a strong serve, 5-7 6-4 6-1.
Women's singles semifinals are now set: yesterday we got the Samantha Stosur vs. Garbine Muguruza pair, while Serena's opponent in the final four will be Kiki Bertens, who beat Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-2 in the quarterfinal played at the same time as Serena's.