French Open: Serena Williams soars past hampered Magdalena Rybarikova

French Open: Serena Williams soars past hampered Magdalena Rybarikova

Serena Williams got her title defense off to a fine start at the French Open, cruising past the injured Magdalena Rybarikova for the loss of just two games.

oliver-dickson-jefford
Oliver Dickson Jefford

It took just 42 minutes for defending champion and world number one Serena Williams to reach the second round in Paris, defeating Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-0 in a comfortable performance.

The American had a bit of a tricky start, but eventually won the final ten games against an opponent who was struggling physically.

Williams survives tricky start to ease to first set

The match got off to a great start for Williams, holding to 15 and breaking the Slovakian’s serve straight after, though showed some rust as Rybarikova went 0-40 up on the American’s serve, with a forehand error handing the break straight back.

There were some positive signs for Rybarikova as she pulled off a comfortable hold to make it 2-2, though was little success for the Slovakian as Williams quickly held and showed she was out of her early slumber by breaking Rybarikova once again to make it 4-2.

By now it was clear that Rybarikova was suffering physically, clearly shown by strapping on her left wrist and right knee, and she started to make several unforced errors, including a long forehand  which saw her lose her serve for the third time, handing Williams the first set 6-2.

Rybarikova was evidently injured, shown by strapping on her wrist and knee, and was often on the back foot (Getty/Clive Brunskill)
Rybarikova was evidently injured, shown by strapping on her wrist and knee, and was often on the back foot (Getty/Clive Brunskill)

Rybarikova struggles as Williams cruises

Williams was in full flow by the beginning of the second set, and quickly raced out to a 3-0 lead as the chance of a bagel seemed extremely likely, with Rybarikova looking unlikely to put up too much of a fight.

However, the Slovakian, to her credit, did not give up. Down 15-30 on her serve, Rybarikova managed to pull off two aces, only to double fault to hand Williams another break point, which the American duly converted with an impressive backhand winner.

After a comfortable hold by Williams, Rybarikova looked as if she’d end on a high, taking a 40-0 lead in her service game, only for a double fault and two unforced error, alongside a Williams backhand winner, saw the American have a match point, which was converted when Williams forced Rybarikova into a backhand error.

Williams and Rybarikova meet at the net after their brief encounter (Getty/Aurelien Meunier)
Williams and Rybarikova meet at the net after their brief encounter (Getty/Aurelien Meunier)

Match stats

Though she did not need to be at her best, Williams put in a pretty impressive performance. The world number one had a first serve percentage 77 percent and hit 25 winners compared to only five errors. Furthermore, Williams won 87.5 percent of her first serve percentage points and won 61 percent of points on Rybarikova’s serve.

The world number one put on an impressive serving display in her opening round match (Getty/Ian MacNicol)
The world number one put on an impressive serving display in her opening round match (Getty/Ian MacNicol)

In contrast, Rybarikova only had a first serve percentage of 48 percent and won only 22% of points on her second serve. Furthermore, the Slovakian hit only eight winners compared to 18 unforced errors and only won five points on the American’s serve.

Looking ahead

Williams next faces Brazilian, and clay court specialist, Teliana Pereira in the second round.

Pereira, who also reached the second round in 2015, battled past Kristyna Pliskova in the first round and is currently ranked at 81st in the world.

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