Serena wins her 3rd French Open title, 20th Grand Slam

Serena wins her 3rd French Open title, 20th Grand Slam
Overcoming a mid-match lull and a third-set deficit, Serena Williams won her third French Open title and 20th major singles trophy by beating 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 on Saturday.

The top-ranked Williams took the last six games and added to her championships on the red clay of Roland Garros in 2002 and 2013.

She stretched her Grand Slam winning streak to 21 matches, following titles at the US Open last September and Australian Open in January.

Only two women in the century-plus history of Grand Slam tennis have won more major titles than the 33-year-old American: Margaret Smith Court with 24, and Steffi Graf with 22.

This one did not come easily, though, for Williams, who has been dealing with an illness and skipped practice Friday.

She double-faulted 11 times, part of 42 total unforced errors, 25 more than her opponent. In the third set, she fell behind 2-0, was warned by the chair umpire for an audible obscenity and even resorted to hitting one shot left-handed.

Whatever it takes to win, right? No one does that better than Williams, who is 32-1 in 2015, including 12-0 in three-setters. She is the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win the Australian Open and French Open back-to-back and will head to the grass courts of Wimbledon this month with a chance to extend a bid to do just about the only thing she hasn’t accomplished: win a calendar-year Grand Slam. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic beat battling Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 on Saturday to reach his third French Open final and stand on the cusp of a career Grand Slam. 

The world number one, who knocked out nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, goes on to face eighth-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s title match.

After their thrilling semifinal was halted due to a storm at 3-3 in the fourth set on Friday, Murray levelled the contest at two sets apiece. But the Serb rallied in the decider to wrap up his eighth successive win over his fellow 28-year-old who he had also beaten in January’s Australian Open final.

Victory on Sunday would make Djokovic only the eighth man to win all four majors and put him halfway to a rare calendar Grand Slam, a feat achieved by just two men, most recently by Australian great Rod Laver back in 1969.       

“The first game of the final set was crucial and then I started to play better,” said Djokovic. “It was a very difficult match. I started well, I was solid and aggressive but Andy came back with confidence.” Sunday will be eight-time major winner Djokovic’s 16th Grand Slam final.

The Serb also took his 2015 record to 41 wins against just two defeats, stretching his current streak to 28.

For Murray, it was a third semifinal loss at Roland Garros meaning Britain’s wait for a first men’s finalist since Bunny Austin in 1937 goes on.  Djokovic had swept through the first two sets on Friday without facing a break point. But Murray conjured up a momentum-switching performance in the third set to haul himself back into the match.

That sent Djokovic off court for a lengthy medical timeout and just six more games were possible before the gloom and an approaching storm sent the players back to their hotels for the night after 3 hours and eight minutes on court. Three love games followed Saturday before a 33-shot rally helped Murray to a break of a tense-looking Djokovic for a 6-5 lead and a chance to level the semifinal. The third seed served it out to set up their third five-set decider and first since the US Open final in 2012 where Murray achieved his first Grand Slam title. But Djokovic suddenly shook off the shackles for a break and a 2-0 lead.


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