Serena Williams was trounced 6-1 in the first set of her French Open last-16 tie with Sloane Stephens, before recovering to claim sets two and three 7-5 and 6-3 respectively and book her place in the quarter finals.
The comeback kept alive the American’s hopes of claiming just a third Roland Garros title, which were boosted considerably when two of her main competitors for the crown, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova, tripped over the same hurdle Williams managed to clear.
With only one other top ten seed left in the tournament, the victory saw the 33-year-old shrivel into just 3/5 to win it, with any member of the unfancied field available at 5/4.
Despite the bleak outlook, there’s definitely a case to make for backing any of the six remaining women left in the hunt, starting with Williams’ sketchy record on clay.
Her struggles on the dirt are underlined by the fact that she’s won 17 Grand Slams contested on surfaces not coloured red, as opposed to the two claimed in France.
She’s advanced beyond the quarter final of this competition just once since 2004 and, aside from a freakish 2013 where she didn’t lose any of her 28 outings on clay, every spring schedule of her career has been laden with shock defeats.
Last season, for example, she lost in the second round of this competition to fellow quarter finalist Garbine Muguruza, so there are players left in the hat with the tools to topple the American overlord.
One of which is Ana Ivanovic.
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s girlfriend got the better of the veteran when the pair last met at a Grand Slam, triumphing in the 2014 Australian Open when it was largely accepted Ivanovic wasn’t at her best.
There’s a possibility she won’t even have to face the tournament favourite to claim the top prize either, with two people left in the draw who could dispense with Williams before the showpiece.
Her last-eight opponent Sara Errani doesn’t have much chance, with no wins from eight career meetings with her, but Swiss sledgehammer Timea Bacsinszky, a potential semi-final adversary, has the weapons to see her off.
The 25-year-old hits with power, meaning she can retaliate in kind when Williams fires meteorites over the net.
She averaged a serve speed of 148 km/h in seeing off Kvitova in the previous round, a distinct improvement on the 121 km/h averaged by Williams’ quarter-final foe Errani in her last-16 bout.
If she can maintain these levels of power into the semis, knocking out the much-fancied American isn’t out of the question.