Serena Williams beat Timea Bacsinszky 4-6 6-3 6-0

She was down and almost out but Serena Williams fought back in the manner of a true champion to claim a place in the final at Roland Garros yesterday. Trailing by a set and clearly struggling with illness, the 33-year-old American dug deep into her energy reserves to ultimately run away with the match in the third set against the plucky Timea Bacsinszky.

Bacsinszky's great season

With many pundits expecting the semi-final against the Swiss number 23 seed to see Serena steamroller her way to the final, Bacsinszky demonstrated that she was not going to roll over.

Her season has already seen her make encouraging progress, winning 15 matches in succession until recently. There have also been two titles in Mexico to swell her prize money and now a semi-final at a Grand Slam to improve her credibility on the circuit. Her decision to return to professional Tennis after considering alternative careers in hotel management seems to be paying off handsomely.

Serena struggling with illness

Bacsinszky almost caught Serena on an extremely bad day, although that should not belittle the Swiss woman's challenge, especially during the first two sets. With temperatures rising towards the high 20s, Ms Williams' illness issues (she has been struggling with the flu) seemed to trouble her greatly on court.

She told ESPN afterwards "I don't think I've ever been this sick."

First set to the Swiss player

Her 25-year-old opponent was certainly in the ascendancy in the first set. After trading service games to reach 2-2, Bacsinszky broke in the fifth game, somehow finding a way to counter Serena's massive serve. The mixture of a delightful backhand lob and a couple of rasping returns for the Swiss lady probably helped in that regard.

As Serena used cold towels and ice packs between games to cool her body down, she remained unable to prevent her opponent from maintaining her advantage. Showing controlled aggression, Bacsinszky served out for the set 6-4.

Break in second set for underdog

Williams' ability to last the course seemed in severe doubt as the second set began, yet she continued to utilise her booming serve to keep in touch.

Her body language suggested that she didn't really want to be playing on but as determined as ever she persevered. While the 'doubters' on social media questioned how bad she was really feeling, Bacsinszky took advantage to break in the fifth game to go 3-2 ahead.

Serena 'ups' her game

Maybe playing slightly too aggressively or sensing that an unlikely victory was hers for the taking, Bacsinszky allowed Serena to break straight back to level the second set up. From there on it was as though the shackles had been released, as Williams' power game took over to take another break and with it the set.

By the end the American was in complete control of the outcome of the match. She reeled off ten winning games in a row to limit her discomfort in terms of time on court, taking the match 4-6 6-3 6-0.

Final against Safarova

Whether Serena can recover from the effort that her semi-final exertions would have taken out of her is uncertain, although a day off should help in that regard. Lucie Safarova is clearly in the form of her life, after knocking Ana Ivanovic out in the other semi-final. She has also already beaten Maria Sharapova during the tournament, as the reigning champion also struggled with illness at the French.