• Wimbledon, Day Six

Serena survives marathon to book Shvedova meeting

ESPN staff
June 30, 2012 « Padraig primed to end long drought | Chartbeat test »
Serena Williams was pushed all the way against Jie Zheng © Getty Images
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Four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams had to show all her grit and resolve to come through a tense three-set marathon against 25th seed Jie Zheng on Saturday.

First out on Centre Court and hoping for a relatively straightforward afternoon's work, Williams was instead dragged into an energy-sapping war that saw her serve to stay in the third round contest on no less than three occasions - eventually escaping with a 6-7(5) 6-2 9-7 victory.

The sixth seed needed three match points to finally put her Chinese opponent to bed, rushing to the net and turning home an athletic volley to win the contest in two hours and 28 minutes.

The second set aside it was a brutally close contest, with neither player faltering until the very end. Zheng looked the livelier in the opening stanza but could not find a breakthrough as the two players traded blows, eventually edging the tiebreak to put her more vaunted opponent on the backfoot.

Thrust into action Williams bullied her way through the second set to level matters, but the third set did not follow that script - as Williams twice had to serve to stay in the contest at 4-5 and 5-6. That she managed to do and, in truth, Zheng was finding it tougher and tougher to hold - with the pressure finally telling as she faltered at 7-7.

That gave Williams the chance to finally close out the match but, perhaps fittingly, it was not one she would take immediately - wasting two match point opportunities before finally getting the job done at the third time of asking.

Williams will now face Yaroslava Shvedova in the fourth round, after she defeated 10th seed Sara Errani in an historic match.

Shvedova, who reached the quarter-finals of the recent French Open, defeated the Roland Garros runner-up 6-0 6-4 to move into the last 16 - but the match was most notable for the first set, which saw Shvedova win every single one of the 24 points played.

It is the first time that a so-called 'golden set' has ever happened either at Wimbledon or in the women's game, and only the second time it has ever occurred in the professional era.

Errani was far better in the second set, but Shvedova's momentum nevertheless proved irresistable as she moved through.

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