Serena Williams came through a bruising battle with Maria Sakkari to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open.
Williams looked set to endure more frustration in her quest to level Margaret Court’s record for career grand slam singles titles when she trailed Sakkari by a break in the third set.
Sakkari came from a set down to defeat Williams in the Western & Southern Open prior to this tournament in the Flushing Meadows bubble.
However, she could not hold on to her advantage in the decisive set as Williams produced a response befitting her status as a 23-time major champion.
The American fought back to secure a 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 win and book a place in the last eight, where she will meet either Alize Cornet or Tsvetana Pironkova in her 53rd quarter-final at a grand slam.
Sakkari set the tone for an engrossing contest in her opening service game, which saw her hold to love with the help of three aces.
The Greek had three break points in the fifth game but failed to take any of them and duly paid the price as punishing hitting forced Sakkari to fire a forehand into the net and give Williams the break.
An ace sealed the first set for Williams, who was left screaming in frustration at the end of a gruelling second as a net cord brought up set point for Sakkari.
Williams saved that set point and another to force a tie-break that was dominated by Sakkari.
The world number 22 raced into a 4-0 lead and, though a powerful winner from Williams saw off another set point, an overhit forehand sent the contest into a decider.
Williams again went long in the opening game of the third to surrender the break, which Sakkari consolidated despite some shaky serving.
But Williams brought concerted pressure on the Sakkari serve two games later and it told as she broke back with a blistering cross-court forehand.
That marked a changing of the tide and Williams brought up three break points in the eighth game of the set, taking the third thanks to a tame off-balance forehand into the net from Sakkari.
Despite admirable resistance from Sakkari, there was never a sign of Williams failing to serve out an absorbing match and staying on track to finally end her wait for major number 24.
Williams  bt Sakkari  6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-3
Williams – 30/38
Sakkari – 35/43
Williams – 12/2
Sakkari – 13/3
BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 3/8
Sakkari – 1/6
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams – 54
Sakkari – 60
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams – 72/59
Sakkari – 73/48
Williams – 107
Sakkari – 99