Serena outlasts gritty Bertens to reach French Open final

Fri Jun 3, 2016 10:48am EDT
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By John Stonestreet

PARIS (Reuters) - Serena Williams outlasted gritty Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens in two tough sets on Friday to reach the French Open final, where she will play fourth seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza with her 22nd grand slam singles title at stake.

Defending champion Williams, who won the first of her three Roland Garros crowns in 2002, started slowly for the second day running, her early play littered with the unforced errors that had characterized Thursday's labored three-set quarter-final win against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.

The champion was broken in the first game by her unseeded opponent who, entering the contest on a 12-match winning singles streak in all competitions, showed no sign of nerves in her first major semi-final.

Williams eventually took the first set 7-6 on a tiebreak that she edged 9-7, settling into a more comfortable rhythm in the second set, which she won 6-4.

"The first set was not very easy but I think that today I played better. (Bertens) played very well," Williams said courtside.

For 58th-ranked Bertens, Friday's defeat marked the end of an unprecedented major run she dubbed "crazy" after her quarter-final win on Thursday over Swiss eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky.

But she may well rue a failure to take her chances on Friday, when she converted just two of 10 break points.

After breaking early on Bertens -- mixing the occasional dropshot in with powerful groundstrokes, especially on the forehand, and occasionally outhitting the American -- had three chances to break again in the fifth game for what would have been a 4-1 first set lead.   Continued...

Williams returns the ball.  Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros - Serena Williams of the U.S. v Elina Svitolina of Ukraine - Paris, France - 1/06/16.    REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes