Serena survives as Djokovic, Murray down young guns

Sat May 30, 2015 5:25pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

PARIS (Reuters) - Serena Williams's survival instincts dug her out of trouble against a familiar foe on Saturday after Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray slapped down pesky Australian upstarts on day seven of the French Open.

With the sun sinking behind Court Philippe Chatrier, world number one Williams swaggered out to face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus -- a heavyweight clash befitting a final.

Only a place in the last 16 was at stake this time, however, and it looked as though double Australian Open champion Azarenka, seeded 27 as she journeys back to the top after foot surgery, would be back for the second week.

She led by a set and 4-2 but succumbed as Williams belatedly rediscovered her firepower to win 3-6 6-4 6-2.

An intense duel was not without controversy too, with Azarenka furious after being forced to replay a point after she believed she had saved a fourth set point in the second set.

"That call was bullshit and everybody knows it," Azarenka told reporters. "But Serena is a great champion. She knows how to turn it up sometimes."

It was hard not to feel for Azarenka who recently lost to Williams in Madrid having had three match points, but the American was magnificent when the chips were down.

From 2-0 down in the decider, the 33-year-old launched a fusillade of winners to take the last six games of the match.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts during the women's singles match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, May 30, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol