Thursday, June 4, 2015

French Open Day 12: Serena, Safarova gain final

Serena Williams, practicing during the Bank of the
West Classic at Stanford last summer, overcame the
flu and a big deficit to reach the French Open final.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Women's semifinals -- Battling the flu, top-seeded Serena Williams pulled off another comeback to defeat No. 23 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals.
   Williams dropped the first set for the fourth time in her last five matches and trailed 3-2 in the second set on Bacsinszky's serve. Williams then reeled off the last 10 games, advancing to the final against 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic (Saturday at 6 a.m. PDT on NBC).
   Safarova, 28, beat Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, the seventh seed and 2008 champion, 7-5, 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam singles final. Safarova won her first major title in this year's Australian Open, teaming with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in women's doubles. 
   Stars and stripes -- The 33-year-old Williams, who grew up in Compton in the Los Angeles area, is trying to join Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22) as the only players to win at least 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
   Southern California natives Bob and Mike Bryan, seeded first, dismissed Italians Simone Bolleli and Fabio Fognini, the sixth seeds and reigning Australian Open champions, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the final.
   The 37-year-old Bryan twins will play third-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil. They outclassed fifth-seeded Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-3, 7-5.
   Mattek-Sands and Mike Bryan, seeded second in mixed doubles, captured the title with a 7-6 (3),  6-1 triumph over unseeded Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic and Marcin Matkowski of Poland.
   Three Americans and one Frenchman advanced to the semifinals in junior boys singles. Second-seeded Taylor Fritz will meet No. 4 Corentin Denolly of France, and No. 6 Michael Mmoh will face No. 13 Tommy Paul.
   In the junior girls quarterfinals, fourth-seeded CiCi Bellis of the United States routed unseeded Jill Teichmann of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1, but American Katerina Stewart, seeded third, lost to No. 12 Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain 6-2, 6-2.
   The United States has one team in both the boys and girls doubles semis: No. 4 William Blumberg and Paul, and No. 6 Caroline Dolehide and Stewart. 
   Northern California connection -- Williams won her third Bank of the West title at Stanford last year. The Bryans played at Stanford in 1997 and 1998, helping the Cardinal win the NCAA team title each year. Bellis, 16, lives in Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   Fast facts --Williams is 11-0 in three-set matches this year and 31-1 overall (not counting two walkover losses). The defeat came against Petra Kvitova in the Madrid semifinals on clay last month.
   Safarova has not lost a set in her six French Open matches, including a fourth-round victory over defending champion Maria Sharapova.
   Quote -- Williams: "I don't think I've ever been this sick. I didn't expect to win that. I really didn't. I can't believe I won."
   Friday's men's semifinals -- Stan Wawrinka (8) vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (14), 4 a.m. PDT, followed by Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Andy Murray (3), Tennis Channel (delayed on NBC, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.).
   Djokovic is 18-8 against Murray with a seven-match winning streak (all on hardcourts). Djokovic leads 2-0 on clay, winning 7-6 in the third set in the 2011 Italian Open semifinals in their last meeting on the surface.
  The Wawrinka-Tsonga series is tied 3-3. Wawrinka has won the last two matches, both on clay.

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