Veterans' day out in Paris as Serena Williams, Samantha Stosur play French Open semi-finals
Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur will both be looking to chalk up wins for the over-30s brigade in Friday's French Open semi-finals
Paris: Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur will both be looking to chalk up wins for the over-30s brigade in Friday's French Open semi-finals.
Serena, 34, would be the oldest ever women's champion if she captures the crown for the fourth time on Saturday. But she would first need to see off the unexpected challenge of Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens. Stosur, at 32, would contest her second French Open final if she gets the better of rising Spanish player Garbine Muguruzu.
Williams almost saw her hopes of winning a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title blasted out of the water in a nervy 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 quarter-final win over lowly-ranked Yulia Putintseva.
Her post-match comments matched her perplexing performance. "Yeah, I just was not playing my best. I kept missing, you know, just misfiring," she said. "Honestly, at one point I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know. I just was — I guess I was not the most positive mentally, but obviously I didn't want to stop."
Bertens, she said, would be another tough challenge despite her low ranking. "Well, obviously she has a big serve and a big forehand. She really moves the ball around well," she said.
Bertens, 24, knows she has nothing to lose going up against Williams, whom she has played only once before, losing in straight sets in the second round of last year's US Open. But she is fearful that the busy playing schedule she has kept over the last few weeks and the aftereffects of her 7-5, 6-2 last eight win over Timea Bacsinszky could hamper her chances of pulling off what would be a huge shock. "I have some problems with my calf," she said. "I'm just gonna prepare again for tomorrow, do everything that I can with the physios, and we will see how it is."
In the other semi-final, Stosur, a veteran of 15 years on the WTA circuit, who won the 2011 US Open, faces Garbiñe Muguruza, a Venezuelan-born Spaniard 10 years her junior. Muguruza's biggest achievement to date was reaching last year's Wimbledon final, where she lost to Williams. She is in the modern mould of tall women players reliant on power-hitting from the baseline. That throws up an intriguing clash of styles that draws fourth-seeded Muguruza into the unchartered territory of a Roland Garros semi-final.
"I don't think I have played against her. Maybe. Maybe. I know that she reached the final at the French Open," she said after her quarter-final win. As it turns out they have played, just once, on clay at Madrid in 2014 when Stosur won in three sets. "She plays well. It will be a tough match. In a semi-final match, all matches are tough. Lots of players are stressed and they all want to reach the final, so I will focus on my tennis and I will give my best," Muguruza said.
Stosur for her part said that she recognised Muguruza as one of the top, rising stars on the WTA circuit. "She's three or four in the world at the moment. She's had a great couple of years. She has had some good wins this week obviously to be this far," she said.
Iga Swiatek with her 28-match winning streak is the clear favourite to win the women's singles title at the 2022 French Open but one mustn't forget that the Grand Slam has had surprising winners over the years.
Naomi Osaka admitted to battling with depression and not finding the joy in wins. She hopes to put that and knowledge of her clay record aside at the French Open.
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