Serena Williams survived a scare to extend her latest bid for an elusive 24th Grand Slam singles title with a three-set victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu on Wednesday while third seed Aryna Sabalenka won an all-Belarusian battle with Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5, 6-3.
The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time champion in Paris, won 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 and will face fellow American Danielle Collins for a place in the last 16.
The American, seeded seventh, will play compatriot Danielle Collins for a last-16 berth as she looks for a fourth French Open crown, but first since 2015.
Williams started well on Wednesday with a comfortable opening set, but paid for missing seven of eight break points in the second as world number 174 Buzarnescu forced a decider.
But she double-faulted on break point in the first game of the third set and Williams cruised to the finish line.
“It was good competition, she was playing well and I was playing well,” said the former world number one, who has withdrawn injured mid-tournament on two of her last three visits to Roland Garros.
Also in the women’s draw, Swiss 10th seed Belinda Bencic failed to improve her poor French Open record as she lost 6-2, 6-2 to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.
Bencic has still never made the fourth round in five appearances.
Former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka set up a third-round tie against Madison Keys with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Denmark’s Clara Tauson.
The Belarusian’s best Roland Garros run was a semi-final appearance eight years ago and this is the first time she has made round three since 2015.
The United States’ Keys, who lost to Sloane Stephens in the 2018 last four, saw off Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-1, 7-5.
Serena Williams (USA x7) bt Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM) 6-3, 5-7, 6-1
Danielle Collins (USA) bt Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-0, 6-2
Elena Vesnina (RUS) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE x11) – walkover
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x15) bt Clara Tauson (DEN) 7-5, 6-4
Madison Keys (USA x23) bt Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-1, 7-5
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x31) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-2, 6-3
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4, 6-1
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) bt Veronika Kudermetova (RUS x29) 7-6 (9/7), 5-7, 7-5
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) bt Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) bt Belinda Bencic (SUI x10) 6-2, 6-2
Polona Hercog (SLO) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5, 6-4
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE x20) bt Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-1, 6-3
Paula Badosa (ESP x33) bt Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-2, 6-0
Ana Bogdan (ROM) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN x2) – walkover
With AFP Inputs
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