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Gutsy Serena Williams shows her spirit to set up final battle

By Tom Allnut

Serena Williams survived another scare at the French Open as the American battled back from a set down to beat Timea Bacsinszky and secure her place in the final.

Williams has now come from a set down to win four times at this tournament, trumping her previous Grand Slam record of three, as the top seed showed her relentless fighting spirit again to win 4-6 6-3 6-0.

The world No 1 will now play Czech Lucie Safarova - who defeated Ana Ivanovic in straight sets - in the final as she bids to win her third title at Roland Garros and 20th Slam.

Williams was visibly under the weather throughout the match on the Philippe Chatrier court, coughing and spluttering in between points, but she found a way through.

"I thought I had lost but I found some energy and I won," Williams said. "I hope I get better for Saturday. I feel ill."

Williams also had to contend with a brilliant display from Bacsinszky, who almost gave up tennis two years ago when she began an internship in hotel management.

It was Bacsinszky's first appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final, but the Swiss showed no signs of nerves early on, serving an ace to hold her first service game.

She more than held her own in the rallies too, taking Williams' ground-shots as early as possible and pinning the American back with a number of driving backhands.

Bacsinszky's strong start was rewarded in the fifth game as a brilliant drop-shot and lob opened up a second break point, which she converted to lead 3-2.

Her relentless hitting at the back and clever angles at the front made Williams appear all the more sluggish and the Swiss served for the set at 5-4.

Two set points were saved by the American but a forehand winner gave Bacsinszky a third opportunity, and this time she closed out.

Williams dug deep at the start of the second set but neither her illness nor Bacsinszky would let up and the Swiss clinched a break point to lead 3-2 as she did in the first.

The world No 1 came storming back, however, as Bacsinszky's faultless hitting began to show some cracks and Williams won four games in a row to force a decider.

The momentum was now firmly in her favour and two missed forehands from Bacsinszky, with the court at her mercy, gave Williams an immediate break.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion then clicked into gear, winning the next five games in a row with some blistering tennis to seal a gutsy victory in one hour and 54 minutes.

Belfast Telegraph


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