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   Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 05:30 GMT
Serena survives French test
Serena Williams
The world number one committed over 50 errors
S Williams (1) bt E Loit 3-6 7-6 7-5

Serena Williams was on the verge of suffering a stunning defeat in the first round of the Australian Open before fighting back to beat Emilie Loit in three sets.

The American top seed - aiming for a fourth straight Grand Slam title - was expected to breeze past her French opponent.

I think I was a bit lucky to pull that through

Serena Williams

But it was clear from the outset that Loit intended to make the world number one fight for every point.

And Williams was not helping her cause by firing a succession of unforced errors on her way to dropping the first set 6-3.

The second set was a tight affair that came down to a tie-break, during which Loit was within three points of victory before Williams came through.

That should have signalled an improvement from the favourite, but it was her opponent who stepped upa gear and found the early break.

Williams fought back to earn two match points in the 10th game, but Loit would not give in.

The American was forced to battle through another two games before finally securing the win.

"I don't know where I was today," Williams said.

"I think I was a bit lucky to pull that through. I wasn't attacking and focusing and doing the things I had to do. But now I'll now be in the groove. I just had a bad day today.

"I never thought I was going to lose. That thought never crossed my mind. I did think to myself 'Gosh, this is bad' but I never felt I was going to lose."

Loit said she had been fired up by what she perceived as a sneer by Williams when the Frenchwoman won the toss and chose to receive.

"Later on in the match, when I saw her getting irritated and losing it a bit, I really enjoyed that," Loit said.

"In the end, she was very pleasant. She said the usual kind of things like 'good match'."

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"I made too many errors"
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