Serena Williams defeated Maria Sakkari 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 3-6 in an epic fourth-round contest to keep alive her hope for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.
Williams, who won her first US Open more than 20 years ago, won the first set in a little over half an hour but her opponent made a huge effort and, maybe inspired by her victory in their last meeting at the Western & Southern Open two weeks ago, Sakkari won a thrilling second set tie-break to force a third set.
The Greek 15th seed started brightly in the third set, breaking the American but Williams got the better of her as the game went on, breaking her in the eight game to serve out the match.
Williams who is the favourite to win the title is yet to win a Grand Slam singles title since the Australian Open in 2017. She remains on course to go a step better than her 2018 and 2019 US Open finish when she was beaten in the final on both occasions. She faces Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarter final.
Unseeded Tsvetana Pironkova will try and stop Williams’ quest of winning her 24th Grand Slam title after the Bulgarian won Alize Cornet 6-4 6-7 (7-5) 6-3 to continue her fantastic run in the tournament.
The former Wimbledon semi-finalist who took a break following the birth of her first child is playing in her first tournament in three years. But playing under her protected ranking, she has gotten to the last eight in New York for the first time in her career. The eventful match against Cornet was her toughest test so far but she emerged the winner in almost three hours. The 32-year-old was at her scintillating best, firing 46 winners past Cornet and won 21 points at the net.
Cornet mounted a comeback in the second set as Pironkova started to get tired, failing to serve for the match twice but she summoned enough strength in the final set to seal her victory.
Pironkova, has also ousted two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza and 18th seed Donna Vekic in New York.
Victoria Azarenka’s revival continued as she qualified for her first Grand Slam quarter-final since 2016, after coming from behind to beat 20th seed Karolina Muchova 5-7 6-1 6-4.
The win sets her up against 16th seed Elise Mertens, who ended Sofia Kenin’s dreams of winning successive majors.