Serena Survives Safarova Scare to Secure #20 at 2015 French Open
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Serena Williams fought off a Lucie Safarova comeback to claim her 20th grand slam title at Roland Garros.
Williams needed three sets to defeat her Czech opponent, something that had become a familiar theme with the world number one during this tournament. Serena had been suffering from illness throughout the fortnight, and needed three sets to defeat Anna-Lena Friedsam, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Timea Bacsinszky en route to the final.
Safarova, on the other hand was in the form of her life heading into her first grand slam final, having not dropped a set in her first six matches. The 13th seed had knocked off defending champion Maria Sharapova, and former champion Ana Ivanovic on her way to the final.
Facing her biggest challenge yet, Safarova looked un-nerved during the opening exchanges. Serena the other hand was on fire, serving aces, blasting winners and looking unstoppable.
Having done nothing wrong, Safarova found herself a set and a double break down 6-3, 4-1. Williams had 40-15 to take it to 5-1 and one step closer to the seemingly inevitable straight sets victory. From there the match turned.
Double faults hindered the American as the double break lead soon went away, and after winning five of the next seven games Safarova soon found herself in a second set tiebreak with Williams.
Safarova had been the tiebreak queen at Roland Garros having won all five she faced during the tournament. With the crowd and momentum behind her, Safarova mustered the strength and courage to dominate the tiebreak and level the score at one set a piece.
The potential of an upset and incredible comeback were looking more promising when the 13th seed broke early in the second set. But like so many times before, the champion’s spirit of Serena shone through.
Williams won the next six games from 2-0 down to go all the way and claim her third Roland Garros title, and 20th grand slam overall.
An elated Serena addressed the crowd with her ever improving French.
“It got really complicated today,” Williams said. “I was getting a little bit nervous, and Lucie was just playing great. She was a magnificent opponent. She was playing very aggressive and she had no fear.
“To win my 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros is very special for me because I haven’t always had the most success here. I want to thank all of the fans – it’s just a dream that I’ve won this title.”
Serena is only the third player overall, and second in the open era to reach the 20 grand slam milestone, with Margaret Court (24), and Steffi Graf (22) being the other two. Serena will now turn her attention to possibly winning the calendar year grand slam and catching the two great champions ahead of her.
For Lucie Safarova, it has been an amazing two weeks. The Czech has not only reached her first grand slam final, she has also broken the top 10 and will be number eight in the live rankings next week. Her talent was never in question, but the new Lucie has shown the mental strength and determination that she had lacked in previous years.