World No. 1 Serena Williams had an almighty scare Thursday, beating Anna-Lena Friedsam in the second round of the 2015 French Open. Williams shockingly dropped the first set to her 105th-ranked opponent at Roland Garros, but she eventually won 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
Having already seen Caroline Wozniacki knocked out of the tournament, Williams refused to be upset the same way.
But for a while, it looked like a nightmare day for the fancied seeds in Paris, per the BBC Sport Tennis Twitter feed:
A double-fault in the penultimate game of the opening set gave Friedsam a chance to break serve. It was a chance the German seized. The unforced error was characteristic of the sloppy way Williams played early on.
With a chance to serve for the set, Friedsam played a composed brand of tennis. The realisation of having the most dominant female player in the sport on the brink clearly did not unnerve her.
When she boomed an ace to start the 12th game, Friedsam offered a sign of her focus and intent. She soon claimed the set to leave Williams reeling.
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller detailed just how sloppy Williams had been during that rough opening set:
But Williams soon re-established her power, and she served her way to the first game of the second stanza.
A decisive moment for the world No. 1 came in the sixth game of the second set. Trailing 40-0, Williams rallied magnificently to break serve.
An increasingly plucky Friedsam returned the favour in the next game, but Williams reasserted control to see out and take the set.
Fuller detailed just how difficult Williams found it:
Williams still found it tough to shake off her game opponent in the final set. But after breaking serve to start, before narrowly avoiding Friedsam's attempts to do the same, she seemed to put her error-strewn early performance behind her.
Having regained her customary power and efficiency, Williams stayed in control to take the final set by a comfortable margin. She finished with nine aces, eight double-faults and 52 unforced errors, per the RolandoGarros.com SlamTracker. But winning six of eight break points ultimately proved the difference.
Following the match, a below-par Williams pointed to last year's painful experience at Roland Garros. She claimed the past disappointment was playing on her mind and affected her game this time, per New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg:
Despite surviving her early scare, the top player in the women's field will hope her worst tennis is now behind her. USA Today's Nick McCarvel believes it will have to be because tougher tests await Williams in the third round:
Rothenberg has quickly dubbed Williams' clash with old foe Victoria Azarenka as the marquee one for Round 3. He recounted how many problems the Belarusian gave Williams during their last meeting at the Madrid Open.
At the moment though, Williams won't be worried about renewing a rivalry. She'll just be relieved to have escaped an upset.