PARIS — No comeback necessary for Serena Williams in this match. She was back to being at her best.
Her serves were terrific, to the tune of 10 aces. Her returns too, as Williams delivered 11 winners. Her forehands, her backhands, her defense — and the list goes on and on — helped compile a 39-9 edge in total winners.
Closing in on a 20th Grand Slam title and third at Roland Garros, Williams played far better during a 6-1, 6-3 victory over 17th-seeded Sara Errani in the French Open quarterfinals Wednesday than in any of her preceding three rounds, when she dropped the opening set each time before turning things around.
“I had only one option,” Williams said after defeating the 2012 runner-up, “and that was to kind of gain control of myself, my emotions, and my game.”
Consider it done.
Errani was left to sum it up this way: “I couldn’t do what I would like to do.”
The top-seeded Williams, 30-1 this season, has a way of making opponents feel that way.
On Thursday, in her 27th major semifinal, she will play No. 23 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland. Bacsinszky earned her debut in the final four at a Grand Slam tournament by beating 93rd-ranked Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium, 6-4, 7-5.
The other women’s semifinal is No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, against No. 13 Lucie Safarova.
The 25-year-old Bacsinszky had never made it past the second round of the French Open, or the third round of any major. In 2014, she was ranked 112th and went through qualifying just to make it into the main draw.
A couple of years ago, she took time away from tennis and worked in restaurants with an eye toward going to hotel management school.
“I don’t know if it really helps me for my forehand or for my backhand,” she said, “but it gives you … a lot of humility.”
It took about a month for co-workers to realize she was a professional athlete.
“They were like, ‘What are you doing here?’” she recalled.
Now Bacsinszky heads into the most significant match of her career. She’s 0-2 against Williams.
“For me, it doesn’t matter who I’m going to be playing against,” she insisted.
Errani has never beaten Williams in nine tries, but she pushed the 33-year-old American to three sets in their most recent meeting, in a Fed Cup match in April.
Williams considered that a good thing, explaining, “I knew what to expect this time.”
Apparently. Errani needed 32 minutes, and four service games, to earn her first hold. A big reason was a soft-as-cotton serve that allowed Williams to tee off on returns.
While Williams’ serves reached 123 mph, Errani hit nothing faster than 84 mph and occasionally hit second serves as slow as 65 mph.
Still, when Errani did manage to hold for a third consecutive time — at love, no less — she led 3-2 in the second set.
Making a match of it, maybe? Nope.
They would play for 20 more minutes, and Errani wouldn’t win another game.
“I felt,” Williams said afterward, “really comfortable out there.”