French Open: Serena moves an inch closer to title

serena williams reach semi finals of Frecnh OpenIn a sweet measure of revenge for her loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the 2009 quarterfinals, Serena Williams stopped the Russian 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals for the first time in a decade.

Williams, who last won the title in 2002, looked like she was going to cruise through the match during the first set, as she numbed Kuznetsova with precise services, rocket returns and hard ground strokes. (Read: Ferrer defeats Roberdo in French open quarter-final )

But the veteran Kuznetsova didn't fear 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena coming into the match as she had played her close so many times before, and she was able to turn the match around in the second set, taking a lot more risks that certainly paid off. She began to control the court with her blowtorch forehand and was able to keep Williams off balance by consistently hitting behind her. Kuznetsova got off to a 4-0 lead in the set and it was clear that Williams was frustrated as she was constantly talking to herself and bending over in anguish.

Kuznetsova was moving beautifully and began to return service much deeper and also became less predictable on her own delivery. She pushed her lead to 5-1 but then Serena’s level began to rise again, and Kuznetsova had to use every ounce of energy just to be able to close out the set.

The Russian clearly had momentum going into the decider and jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Williams has not carved out a reputation for being one of the greatest players of all time by falling apart at the first signs of pressure. She duly scratched and clawed her way through a marathon third game when she fought three break points to edge back to 1-2. From then on she had her confidence back and was the superior player, regaining control of her service and returns and pounding her ground strokes at the lines. "I just thought I really wanted to hold serve there," said the No.1 seed regarding that crucial third game. "I felt like if I could win this game. And if I didn't, then I was just gonna have to break and hold. She'd started playing better, and I didn't get ready for that, so to say. I made some key errors, so I just tried to make more shots."

And that certainly worked. Williams, who hit 37 winners and made 28 unforced errors to 19 winners and 24 unforced errors from Kuznetsova, finished the match by forcing a groundstroke error, letting out a scream of delight. She will now play 2012 finalist Sara Errani in the semi-final. "It's going to be a really good match," said Serena. "You've got to appreciate how consistent she is. We had a pretty tough match in Madrid (where Serena won 7-5, 6-2 in the semi-final). I'm going to be ready. I'm glad I played her in Madrid because I know she's here to play and she's here to compete. She's so serious. I can be ready for that."