Serena Williams defeated Kiki Bertens to move into her fourth French Open final, where she will meet Spanish number 4 seed Garbine Muguruza, who saw of the challenge of Sam Stosur in today’s other semi.
Both women won in straight sets, with Serena dispatching world no. 58 Bertens 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, whilst Muguruza came through 6-2, 6-4 in commanding style.
Muguruza upset Williams in the second round at Roland Garros two years ago – winning 6-2, 6-2 – but lost to the American in last year’s Wimbledon final. The Spaniard clearly has it in her locker to beat Williams, who without question will enter as the favourite, but holding her nerve against the 21-time major winner – going for a record-equalling 22nd – may prove difficult with the championship on the line.
Then again, pressure will also be on Serena.
World number one Williams wasn’t exactly in vintage form, as has often been the case throughout this tournament, but had enough to see off a brave effort from Bertens on Court Phillipe Chatrier, as the underdog struggled with a calf injury.
Despite the daunting task in front of her, the 24-year-old from Holland had chances in the match too, particularly in the first as she bagged an early break and had the opportunity to serve for the set at 5-4.
Bertens was broken back however and lost some momentum, with the experienced Williams kicking on at that stage and Serena would go on take a thrilling tie break 9-7.
Fighting through discomfort, Bertens broke early in the second and led 2-0, but with her movement somewhat restricted it was a matter of time before she could no longer hold Serena off. Williams broke back twice to lead 4-3 and at 5-4 took her first match point with the score at 40-30, as Bertens sailed a forehand long.
Muguruza powered through her first set with Stosur, with some destructive tennis to take it from the Australian 6-2. She then race to 5-2 in the second and on serve it looked like the end right there, but Stosur – who has had a fantastic tournament – demonstrated some characteristic resilience to break and fight back to 5-4.
At the second opportunity of serving for the match however, Muguruza fired back-to-back aces to set up match point, which she earned when Stosur netted a forehand return into the net.
At 22, Saturday will be Muguruza’s first French Open final.
History for Serena, or will we see a changing of the guard?