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Serena survives Mladenovic test at French Open

Holder Serena Williams survived her toughest challenge yet at this year’s French Open as she battled into the fourth round with a 6-4, 7-6(10) win over Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in a rain-disrupted match on Saturday.

The American’s victory charge was halted for more than 2-1/2 hours as a thunderous downpour descended over

When the duo came back on court to resume battle in a titanic tiebreak lasting 17 minutes, Williams produced some howlers as four match points went begging.

At 6-5 she drew a chorus of 15,000 gasps as she smashed the ball metres over the baseline and Williams was way off target at 8-7 too, misfiring a forehand well beyond the court markings.

The American then drew on the wealth of experience that has earned her 21 grand slam titles to save a set point before sealing victory when Mladenovic belted a forehand wide.

She will next face Ukrainian 18th seed Elina Svitolina, who knocked out 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic.

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