Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Serena back and winning

Day Three of Roland Garros 2018 and we saw Serena Williams for the first time since Miami in March.

In a high standard match, Serena managed to defeat Kristyna Pliskova.

This was despite serving two less aces, four more double faults, creating half the number of break points, and hitting five less winners.

It was conversion of break points (75% to 25%), less unforced errors, points won on first serve (80% to 70%), and generally winning the important points that enabled Serena to progress to the second round 7-6(4) 6-4.

She will play Ash Barty in the next match, the Australian 17th seed not displaying any signs of discomfort from the back injury that forced her out of the Strasbourg tournament last week.

She defeated Russian player Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-3 6-1.

A poor first serve percentage (47%) and six double faults couldn’t prevent Barty from dominating the match, and the 36 unforced errors from Natalia certainly helped.

The challenge of playing Serena is a big one, but Barty has captured some big scalps over the last year or so, and the American icon will need to beware.

The two have only played each other once - a first round match in the 2014 Aus Open when Barty was a teenager and Serena won easily - things are different today.

Rafa Nadal (1) and Maria Sharapova (28j were two Roland Garros champions to hit the court and successfully find their way through the opening round.

Sharapova did it the hard way - after smashing Richel Hogenkamp, Dutch player ranked 133, in the first set, Maria screamed her way to a halt in set two, and then lost the first three games in the decider.

Always capable of raising her game several levels when in trouble, Sharapova won the final six games of the match and entered the next phase of the tournament 6-1 4-6 6-3.

Nadal won in straight sets, but was taken to a tie break in the third, 

where Simone Bolelli had chances to level the match.

Nadal still was successful 6-4 6-3 7-6(9)

The former Roland Garros champions list on display goes further:

GarbiƱe Muguruza (3), 2016 winner, defeated Sveta Kuznetsova, 2009 winner 7-6(0) 6-2

Other Grand Slam champions matches:

Samantha Stosur, 2011 US Open winner, defeated Yanina Wickmayer 6-2 6-4

Angie Kerber (12), 2016 Australian Open and US Open winner, defeated Mona Barthel 6-2 6-3

Juan Martin del Potro (5), 2009 US Open winner, defeated Nicolas Mahut 1-6 6-1 6-2 6-4

Marin Cilic (3), 2014 US Open winner, defeated James Duckworth 6-3 7-5 7-6(4)

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