PARIS, France - Three-time French Open champion Serena Williams put together a commanding performance to defeat the tricky Julia Goerges and set up a fourth-round clash with Maria Sharapova.
Playing the best match of her Roland Garros fortnight so far, Serena needed just over an hour and 15 minutes to calmly power through in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
“There is still a ways to go, but it's moving in the right direction,” Serena assessed in her post-match press conference. “And I think that as long as it's moving in the right direction, I know I will get there.
“I feel like every match I play I'm getting better and I'm playing tougher opponents and I'm hanging in there, and I feel like it's going to hopefully keep going.”
Just one break of serve made the difference for Serena in the opening set, getting ahead quickly at 3-1. Her powerful serve was firing from the start, and she didn’t face a single break point in the opening set, winning 89% of points behind her first serve.
After getting ahead 2-1 in the second, Serena faced her first big challenge of the match as Goerges finally solved the Serena serve to break straight back. But the 23-time Grand Slam champion replied emphatically, reestablishing her break lead in the next game and defending the lead for the rest of the match.
Despite weathering 11 aces from Goerges, Serena was in command of the match from the start, striking 20 winners and keeping on top of her unforced errors count, 12. Her aggressive game allowed her to bring up 11 break chances - converting on three - while Goerges got just one look at break point.
The victory extends Serena’s Roland Garros third round record to 12-2, and she advances to the second week while alive in both singles as well as doubles. Paired with sister Venus Williams, the duo are through to the third round of the doubles competition.
Up next, a familiar foe awaits Serena as she’s set to take on Sharapova for the 22nd time. Serena leads the head-to-head record against the Russian, with 19 victories and just two defeats, and their last matchup - a straight-sets win for Serena - took place in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals.
“Quite frankly, [Maria] is probably a favorite in this match, for sure,” Serena admitted. “You know, she's been playing for over a year now. I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go.
“But I think this will be another test. I think this is just one of her best surfaces, and she always does really, really well here. So this would be a good opportunity for me kind of to see where I am and just hopefully continue to go forward.”