SERENA CHARGES THROUGH

By Craig Gabriel

PARIS: It did not take Serena Williams long to secure her place in the third round of the French Open. She produced an emphatic result against French teenager Caroline Garcia, winning 6-1, 6-2 on the centre court, Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was obvious that Garcia, who received a wild card, was overawed by the situation. She was playing in front of her own crowd on the most important clay court in the world at one of the biggest tournaments in the world.

Serena raced to a 5-0 lead before Garcia, ranked 114, was on the scoreboard and when she did win her first game the crowd erupted its approval. It brought a smile to the youngster.

“I think she played really well, I think I played well,” said Serena. “I came out strong because I knew I had to.  I knew she was a tough player, so just had to do what I have to do to just make it to the next level.”

But Serena was not going to get distracted by any of that. She had a job to do and she had to make sure she concentrated right through and remain focused.

“I felt like the match was ‑‑ I really just was focused the whole time,” she added. “I really wanted to do well.  I really wanted to just be serious and to, you know, get this win under my belt. So definitely didn’t try to practice anything.  I think my opponent was playing really well.”

The match was played later in the day and there were some ominous clouds hanging around. The start of this year’s French Open has been plagued with frustrating weather – rain, wind and cold temperatures. Serena obviously wanted to finish before the rain came but at the same time she could not afford to rush her returns.

“There is always internal dialogue going on,” said Serena. “I’m always talking to myself or pumping myself up or telling myself to stay relaxed or telling myself to do this or to do that. I always have a lot of, you know, talk between I guess with myself when I’m out there.”

Serena will now face 26th seed Sorana Cirstea. She is currently on a 26 match win streak which is the best of her career and coming into the French Open she has spent a total of 138 weeks as world No.1