Serena Williams steamrolling opponents
PARIS -- Like many Americans abroad, Serena Williams grows impatient in European restaurants, where the waiters can make you feel like you're sitting through multiple PBS pledge drives while looking to place an order or get the bill.
"When I go to a restaurant, I'm like, Where's the food? Now, now, now!''' she said Sunday. "But when you come to Europe, everything is slower and more family based. It could be better. We just have to slow down and take a deep breath.''
Take a deep breath? Seriously? That would take four, maybe five seconds. Serena doesn't have time for that. After her embarrassing early departure last year, she is determined to win this French Open, and is doing so in as convincing a matter as possible.
While Serena lost in the first round last year, she hasn't spent all that much more time on the court this year. She is breezing through this French Open as if she is on one of those whirlwind "Europe in 15 Days'' tours.
She has played four matches, winning all in straight sets, losing just 10 games and pillaging much of Europe in the process. She whipped through Georgia (Anna Tatishvili) in 51 minutes in the first round. Then she stormed through France (Caroline Garcia) in 62 minutes in the second round, followed by Romania (Sorana Cirstea) in 61 minutes in the third round and Italy (Roberta Vinci) in 70 minutes in Sunday's fourth round.
She is going so well now that she said closing out a match isn't nearly as difficult as addressing the crowd in French (as she did so again after the match, to great applause.)
Next on her travel itinerary is Russia, in the form of Svetlana Kuznetsova. Good luck, Svetlana. You might have won the US Open as a teenager in 2004 and the French Open in 2009, but the world's No. 1 is on a monster roll.
"It will be a good match. The last time we played here she won, so that will probably get her pumped up and she's on a comeback,'' Serena said. "She has nothing to lose but everything to gain. And she also wants to do well.
"So it's not going to be an easy match for me. I've had some pretty tough clay-court matches this year and I think for sure that will be another one.''
Who knows? She may even lose a set. But the match? To a woman currently ranked 39th? That would be an upset. Serena has hasn't lost a match since the finals in Doha in mid-February. She's won 28 matches in a row, which is an impressive streak, but not impressive enough for her to even acknowledge it as such.
"I don't even consider it a streak,'' Serena said. "Everyone says you're on this streak, but for me it's just about winning the matches. I don't care to be on a streak. I don't care to not be on a streak. I just want to win 'this match.' I want to win 'this match,' I want to win 'this match.'''
By "this match,'' Serena meant whatever match she is playing at the time, not the French Open specifically. "If that means it's going to be consecutive, that there is going to be streak, that's great,'' she said. "But at the end of the day I just want to hold up the winner's trophy and whatever it takes to get there.''
Williams did say that one reason for her consistent success recently has been because "I'm really focused for the whole period of the time. I really want every match.''
Evidently. Serena won Sunday's match 6-1, 6-3, but there was a short stretch in the second set when Vinci mounted a slight rally and got the set to 3-3. Williams appeared to get frustrated, occasionally criticizing herself, not that she acknowledged doing so.
"I'm totally fine. I'm really intense. … Were you watching?'' she said when a reporter asked about her reactions during the match. "I don't remember that at all. It just goes to show you I really just want every point.
"[Hitting partner, Sasha Bajin] always tells me that I get too intense at times. That 'You have to relax, you won the first set, you're up. Why do you get so angry at one shot?'"
Well, that's why she wins.