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Call it a comeback: Serena Williams to 3rd Rd at French Open

first_imgCavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is dealing with anxiety Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, attributed much of the poor start to this outing coming about 48 hours after the first match of her comeback following a two-month break. She arrived in Paris having played only four matches all season — none on the red clay used at Roland Garros, and none at a major tournament since she won her 23rd such title at the Australian Open in January 2017, while pregnant.“She had no energy. She was struggling to move,” Mouratoglou said, adding that he had hoped for rain to postpone the match against Barty until Thursday. “She was struggling to use her legs on the serve and she was making much too many mistakes.”And then?“This ability to turn a match around and suddenly be like a superhero, basically — she’s normal and suddenly, Poom!” he said, snapping fingers on both hands. “Something happens, and she transforms into someone who’s almost unreachable at the level she gets to. This is something she’s always had. It’s really special, but that’s also why she is who she is.”Williams started yelling and pumping her fist after pretty much every point that went her way. It woke up Williams’ game. Might have startled Barty, too. As big a hitter as Barty is in her own right, she is hardly in Williams’ class — who is? — and never has been past the third round at a major tournament.ADVERTISEMENT The 36-year-old American, who became a mother on Sept. 1, grabbed four consecutive games over a span of less than 15 minutes to lead 4-1 in the second set, which soon enough would be hers. She gained control of the third almost immediately, breaking to go ahead 2-1, then holding for 3-1.After only three winners in the first set, she had 25 the rest of the way.“When push came to shove, the real Serena came out. And that’s one of her best assets: When her back is against the wall, the best comes out,” Barty said. “And that happened early in the second, and early in the third again.”When Williams served out the victory with a backhand winner down the line, she raised both arms. In the stands, Mouratoglou, shook his fist.“I felt like it’s been a long way and a long journey, and I’m still getting there, you know. But I have been working really hard, for a really long time,” said Williams, who is ranked 451st, 450 spots below her career high. “I just am hoping that every day I’m out there, every match I’m out there … it will come together.”Next for Williams is a third-round match against 11th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany.Get through that, and Williams would face either five-time major champion Maria Sharapova or 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. Williams beat Pliskova’s twin sister, Kristyna, in the first round in Paris.There were, to be sure, plenty of other big names in action Wednesday, including victories for Sharapova, No. 1-ranked Simona Halep and 10-time men’s champion Rafael Nadal.But the 2018 French Open is, first and foremost, about Williams and her return to a Grand Slam stage.“She’s not quite at the level she was when she was at her best, but that’s normal. That’s expected,” Barty said. “But her level when she’s not quite on her best is still bloody good.” Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding Dave Chappelle donates P1 million to Taal relief operations View comments Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew MOST READcenter_img Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. And then, suddenly, after unleashing one particularly powerful backhand return winner that she punctuated with a shout, Williams was back. She was animated. Determined. Dominant, even. Shaking off some rust in her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth nine months ago, Williams recalibrated her shots and erased a deficit of a set and a break to beat 17th-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that ended shortly before dusk.“I lost the first set, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to try harder. I’ve got to just try harder,’ she told the crowd afterward. “And Serena came out.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownWell put.Williams had all sorts of trouble in the opening set, compiling 12 unforced errors. By the time the second set was merely one game old, she had been broken twice in the match, each time at love, a rather surprising development for the owner of one of her sport’s most dangerous serves. LATEST STORIES In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours China population now over 1.4 billion as birthrate falls Winfrey details her decision to withdraw from Simmons film Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Weinstein rape trial Serena Williams of the U.S. screams after scoring a point against Australia’s Ashleigh Barty during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Thursday, May 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)PARIS — After playing so infrequently, it’s as if Serena Williams is starting from scratch.Sure looked that way for a bit more than a half-hour in the French Open’s second round on Thursday, when she dealt with muscle soreness, a lack of verve and a bunch of mistakes. So many mistakes.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more