NEW YORK, Sept 3: Six-time champion Serena Williams survived a spirited challenge from unseeded Kaia Kanepi to triumph 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 on Sunday and reach the quarterfinals of the US Open.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion looked set to romp home when she seized the first set from Kanepi in just 18 minutes.
But the hard-hitting Estonian, who took out world number one Simona Halep in the first round, settled down in the second set, shaking off the partisan crowd in a jammed Arthur Ashe Stadium to push Williams the rest of the way.
�It wasn�t an easy match at all,� said Williams, who let out what she called a �Serena scream� after ripping a backhand cross court to hold serve in the opening game of the third set.
�Winning a big game and a very important game and a really tight game, I think it was just a relief,� said Williams, who took control with a break in the next game and maintained that advantage until she fired a forehand winner on her first match point.
Williams finished with 18 aces and 47 total winners. A couple of loose points gifted Kanepi a break in the first game of the second set, however, and she couldn�t get back on terms.
Williams double-faulted on break point to send Kanepi up 5-2. The American would win the next two games, but she couldn�t find another break and after fighting off two set points saw Kanepi knot the match on her third chance.
�She�s had a lot of big wins in her career. I was just happy to get through it to be honest,� Williams said.
Williams booked a quarterfinal date with Karolina Pliskova, the eighth-seeded Czech who beat Australian Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-4.
Pliskova defeated Williams in the semifinals in New York in 2016. Defending champion Sloane Stephens, the third seed, eased past Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-3 to book a quarterfinal rematch with Latvian Anastasija Sevastova. � AFP