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Serena Williams passes stiff Kaia Kanepi test to reach US Open quarter-finals

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Serena Williams of the US celebrates during her women's singles match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on Day 7 of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
Williams came through (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Serena Williams survived a severe test of her credentials against the hard-hitting Kaia Kanepi on Sunday as she advanced to the quarter-finals of the US Open with a 6-0 4-6 6-3 win.

The American dropped a set for the first time in the tournament as Kanepi – a two-time quarter-finalist in these parts – bounced back from a horrific start.

Kanepi won just six points in the opening set as Williams laid down a marker, but she fought back and used her own ferocious power to blast through the six-time champion.

Unmoved by her opponents revival, Williams regained her composure to set up a last-eight tie with the Czech Republics Karolina Pliskova.

epa06993371 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia reacts during a first set changeover as she plays Serena Williams of the US during the seventh day of the US Open Tennis Championships the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 02 September 2018. The US Open runs from 27 August through 09 September. EPA/JUSTIN LANE *** Local Caption *** 53000073
Kanepi was beaten (Picture: EPA)
Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic celebrates during her ladies singles match against Ashley Barty of Australia on Day 7 of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by kena betancur / AFP)KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
Pliskova awaits Williams (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Pliskova – a former world No. 1 and 2016 runner-up at Flushing Meadows – had earlier defeated Australias Ash Barty in straight sets.

Serena came out all guns blazing.

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The American sent 14 winners whizzing past the Estonian and only made two unforced errors on her way to bagelling her opponent in 18 minutes.

There were fears that the match would be over in a flash, but Kanepi put her finger on the reset button and flew out the traps in the second set, breaking on her way to a 2-0 lead.

Serena Williams of the US returns a shot during her women's singles match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on Day 7 of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP)DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Williams was too strong (Picture: AFP/Getty)

A second break followed, with Serena stunned and the world No. 44 moved to within one game of levelling the match at 5-2.

Getting noticeably louder, Williams stole one of the breaks back and began to mount the pressure on the world No. 44.

But Kanepi held firm and took the 23-time Grand Slam champion into a decider.

As in the first, Williams broke early on and although Kanepi kept within touching distance, the home favourite powered her way into the final eight.

More: Tennis

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