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Serena Williams Extends Winning Streak to 26 at French Open

PARIS (AP) — Already ahead by a set and a break, thanks mainly to her powerful serving and groundstrokes, Serena Williams decided to show she can caress a tennis ball, too.

Catching her French Open foe flat-footed, Williams deftly hit a drop shot so perfectly, it pretty much nestled into the red clay after clearing the net. Delighted, she raised her left fist and looked up in the stands, where her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, shook his right one.

“I was, like, ‘Yeah!’ I only hit drop shots in practice,” Williams said. “I never hit them in a match. … It’s not a go-to shot.”

She certainly has plenty of other options.

The top-seeded Williams extended her career-high winning streak to 26 matches — and improved to 69-3 since a first-round loss at the French Open a year ago — by beating French wild-card entry Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-2 Wednesday to reach the third round. The American has lost four games in two matches.

Garcia’s takeaway?

“She’s very accurate in her shots,” Garcia said, “despite the fact that they’re very hard.”

When Garcia won the second point of the match on a missed forehand by Williams, someone in the crowd yelled, “Allez, Caroline!” Not much to cheer for after that, though: Williams won the next three points with a 111 mph ace, a 100 mph ace, and a 101 mph service winner. In all, Williams hit six aces and won 32 of 39 service points.

“I came out strong,” Williams said, “because I knew I had to.”

The 19-year-old Garcia is ranked only 114th, but much is expected of her. Against Maria Sharapova in the 2011 French Open, she won the first set and led 4-1 in the second before collapsing completely, losing the next 11 games and the match.

Her performance was good enough to inspire Andy Murray to tweet that Garcia “is going to be No. 1 in the world one day.”

For now, it’s Williams who holds that distinction in the rankings, and she certainly looks like someone intent on keeping it that way.

“It’s important for me to win easily,” said the 15-time major champion, who won the French Open in 2002. “It’s also important for me to play well. If I play well, it will bode well for me at Roland Garros.”

Among the past Grand Slam title winners hoping to join her in the third round with victories Thursday: defending French Open champion Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and Petra Kvitova. There wasn’t much time to rest for Azarenka and Kvitova, both of whom finally got to play on Wednesday and won first-round matches that had been postponed by rain.

Also winning Wednesday: 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and 2012 runner-up Sara Errani. Former No. 1 and 2009 U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki, whose boyfriend is golf star Rory McIlroy, lost 7-6 (2), 6-3 to Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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