Serena Williams continues to tempt fate at the French Open, only to come out the other side of the tunnel looking fresh as a daisy. The top seed survived Thursday's semifinal bout against Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to reach the championship match.
Williams will take on Lucie Safarova in Saturday's final. The American is looking to win her third career French Open title and second in three years.
Coming back from early adversity is nothing new to Williams. As ESPN Stats & Info noted, she has a knack for dramatic wins:
Per Roland Garros, this is Williams' fourth win at this year's tournament after losing the first set:
Even though three-set matches have been normal for Williams at the French Open, this one tested her in an entirely different way. Williams was physically drained, coughing like she had pneumonia on the sidelines during a timeout in the second set. Yet as Chris Chase of USA Today noted, Williams was also in the midst of making her comeback during that coughing fit:
Here is what Williams went through during that coughing episode, via USA Today's Andrew Jerell Jones:
Whether it was a second wind or just being more talented than Bacsinszky, Williams found the right formula to turn things around. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the 19-time major winner won 10 straight games to put away Bacsinszky:
It was surprising to see Williams struggle in the early portion of this match, because she sounded more confident than ever coming off her straight-sets win over Sara Errani in the quarterfinals.
"I definitely felt more in control, and I felt I had to be again going up against a player that plays well on this surface in particular," Williams told reporters after that victory, via ESPNW.com's Jim Caple. "I had only one option, and that was to gain control of myself, my emotions and my game."
That match occurred on Wednesday, so perhaps the quick turnaround hurt Williams as she was trying to find her groove against Bacsinszky. She did say after this win, via Live Tennis, that the flu bug has been with her after defeating Victoria Azarenka in the third round:
Speaking to ESPN's Darren Cahill (h/t Randy Walker) after the match, Williams seemed shocked that she won:
Bacsinszky did have a chance to put Williams away when she went up 3-2 in the second set after winning the first. But once Williams tied the second set at 3-3, Bacsinszky had no answers, as Chris Goldsmith noted on Twitter during the third set:
The 25-year-old Swiss star had a tremendous run at the French Open. She had never made it past the third round in a Grand Slam event prior to this tournament, so this is an excellent step forward for Bacsinszky's career.
For whatever reason, as Carl Bialik of FiveThirtyEight.com noted, Williams has struggled early in matches but dominates once they get into the third set:
Great athletes aren't always going to breeze through the competition. Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls teams didn't sweep all of their opponents in the playoffs. Being able to fight that adversity is what makes Williams so great, even as the field has gotten younger and added a lot more talent.
Despite her illness, Williams will enter the French Open final as a heavy favorite. She's 8-0 in her career against Safarova, per MatchStat.com, though this will be their first meeting in 2015. They have never met in a Grand Slam event.
Williams has defeated three quality opponents in a row while battling an illness. Her long track record of success against Safarova should provide a big confidence boost.
She has everything set up to become a 20-time Grand Slam champion and three-time French Open winner.