By Craig Gabriel

PARIS: It was the warmest day at this year’s French Open. The sun was beating down on the red clay, almost baking them and Serena Williams had to dig deep to put herself into the semifinals of the French open for the third time and the first time for a decade, 2003.

“Today I was so determined to get through that, and I really, really, really, really wanted it more than I think anyone, so I think that kind of helped,” said Serena. “I just was really just fighting, giving it everything I have. I just got tired of losing in the quarters.  It’s enough.”

In one hour 57 minutes, in the best women’s match of this year’s French Open, Serena defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Serena took the first set in just 28 minutes but then Kuznetsova started claw back. It was almost reminiscent of the match they played at Roland Garros in 2009.

The Russian won the second set and went up 2-0 in the third and had points for 3-0 with a double break but that third game was where the brilliance and the fighting spirit of Serena Williams shone through. She was like a lioness with every point. She held serve and then started her run that ended with her winning six of the last seven games for the match.

“I just thought I really wanted to hold serve there,” she said. “I felt like if I could win this game and if I didn’t, then I was just gonna have to break and hold. So, you know, it wasn’t a win/lose game for me.  I just wanted to win that particular game.”

Serena was full of praise for Svetlana who she has known for quite some time.

“She’s just such a great player,” she said. “You know, she’s taken a little time off due to injury, but she’s been consistent. At least in the slams. She got to the quarterfinals of Australia and here. I think, you know, hopefully her ranking will get up there faster, but she’s just a good player.  She’s won two Grand Slams, so that doesn’t take luck.  You know, it takes a really good player.

“She never gives up.  Like when I had my match point, I was thinking, I’ve got to just stay so focused because she probably plays this like it’s 15‑All. There are so many things about her that makes her such a really good player.”

In the semis she will take on Italian Sara Errani who reached the final last year.

“It’s going to be a really good match,” said Serena. “You know, you’ve got to appreciate how consistent she is.  We had a pretty tough match in Madrid.  I’m going to be ready.  I’m glad I played her in Madrid because I know she’s here to play and she’s here to compete.  She’s so serious. I can be ready for that.”