Serena Williams baked a bagel, then was staring at defeat on Sunday at the US Open before beating giant-killer Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 to move into the quarterfinals.
Kanepi in the first round had upset world No. 1 Simona Halep.
“I feel like just getting through it in general was all I’m looking at now and not looking back and just moving towards the next match,” Williams said afterwards.
After winning only six points in the first set, Kanepi broke straight away in the second set to shockingly make it a match. The Estonian won the second, but in the third set the momentum shifted back to Williams who leapt out to a 3-0 lead before closing it out.
“It wasn’t easy, obviously, I think one thing she did well was change her strategy and started doing just a completely different game and gave me a different look to her game,” Williams said. “It’s not tough, but I feel like I made one or two crucial errors and that cost me the second set, or at least cost me the first game. It wasn’t like my level went down tremendously. It was one or two points that made a huge difference in that second set.”
Williams in the quarterfinals will face No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova who won 6-4, 6-4 over No. 18 Ashleigh Barty of Australia.
“Every game was tough and I won the important points,” said the succinct Pliskova, who lost in the quarterfinals last year, and is in her third straight quarters at the US Open.
Also lining up a quarterfinal meeting were No. 3 Sloane Stephens, who defeated No. 15 Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-3, and No. 19 Anastasija Sevastova who upset No. 7 Elina Svitolina 6-3, 1-6, 6-0.
“That was pretty good, huh?” the defending champion Stephens said after the match. “I played this whole match from start to finish, so I can’t ask for much more.”
Sevastova is into the quaterfinals for the third straight year.
Monday’s fourth-round meetings in Flushing Meadows are (14) Madison Keys vs. (29) Dominika Cibulkova, (22) Maria Sharapova vs. (30) Carla Suarez Navarro, (20) Naomi Osaka vs. (26) Aryna Sabalenka, and Marketa Vondrousova vs. Lesia Tsurenko.
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