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Serena, Venus power into French Open round of 16

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Serena Williams (R) of the United States shakes hands with Kristina Mladenovic of France following her victory during the Ladies Singles third round match of France on day seven of the 2016 French Open at Roland Garros on May 28, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
May 28, 2016 02:08 PM

By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com

It’s been a resurgent French Open for the Williams sisters. Serena and Venus are playing doubles together at Roland Garros for the first time in three years and just the second time since they won the title in 2010. And they’re turning back the clock in singles as well, each winning Saturday to advance to the round of 16.

It is the first time both Serena, 34, and Venus, 35, have moved into the fourth round at Roland Garros in the same year since 2010, and their dueling third-round victories keep them in line for a potential semifinal matchup.

Not that it was easy. Serena, the defending French Open champion, was pushed for the first time this tournament, pulling out a 6-4, 7-6 victory against home-country favorite Kristina Mladenovic, and Venus shook off a shaky second set to cruise in the third, turning away another Frenchwoman, Alize Cornet, 7-6, 1-6, 6-0.

The highlight of Serena’s match was a dramatic second-set tiebreak, played immediately after a rain delay, that seesawed back and forth before Serena finally secured the victory on her fifth match point, 12-10. The world No. 1 also denied a Mladenovic set point in the breaker.

Serena has yet to drop a set in moving into the second week in Paris for the 11th time in her career. In fact, she lost just five games in her first two matches combined. The 21-time major champion, who is attempting to match Steffi Graf’s Open era record for Grand Slam titles, next faces No. 18 seed Elina Svitolina.

Venus, meantime, is into the fourth round for the first time since 2010. She gained her place by turning things around in the final stanza. After striking just three winners to 11 unforced errors in the second set, the 2002 French Open runner-up posted 10 winners against just three unforced errors in the third.

On Tuesday, the No. 9 seed will be bidding for her first French Open quarterfinal berth since 2006 when she takes on No. 8 seed and 2015 French Open semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky.

In the quarterfinals, Venus could potentially meet fellow American Madison Keys. The 20-year-old, seeded 15th, advanced to her first French Open round of 16 with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Puerto Rico's Monica Puig. Keys faces unseeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertns in the fourth round.