'Fan coach' helps Serena focus on way to quarters

Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:53am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serena Williams took some coaching advice from a fan sitting in the Rod Laver Arena terraces as she struggled to overcome hard-hitting Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 2-6 6-3 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals on Monday.

The 24th seed Muguruza, who stunned Williams in the second round at Roland Garros last year, threatened another upset as she tore through the first set with a barrage of sweetly-struck winners on a cool, windy day.

"Someone in the crowd said 'come on Serena, use spin,'" Williams said in a courtside interview. "There're coaches everywhere here."

Williams later told reporters the advice had hit home.

"I was like, 'you're right. I'm trying to do that anyway, but I wasn't doing it'.

"It's been really great. I hear my name throughout the whole stadium like 360 (degrees). I don't get that everywhere. It feels good."

Williams has started slowly in all her matches at Melbourne Park before rallying and did so again against 21-year-old Muguruza, who showed she has the shots to trouble the world's top players.

The American needed her ever-reliable serve to get her out of a number of jams and saved six break points in a fiercely contested second game of the decisive set.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. hits a return to Garbine Muguruza of Spain during their women's singles fourth round match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria