Serena Williams relieved to come out of a difficult fight with Kaia Kanepi Sport

One favorite after another has stumbled out of this US Open and Serena Williams has struggled resolutely and indomitable in pursuing a seventh title – until she met someone who hit the ball just as hard as Kaia Kanepi, who nearly derailed her campaign Sunday.

Williams lost only three games in three games in three hours and 28 minutes in the fourth round. She left, after another hour and 36 minutes, a little startled but relieved that she had booked a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory. Her servant got her out of many problems, 18 aces that exhausted the spirit of the non-situated Estonian.

"It was not an easy match at all," she said. "She has achieved many good victories in her career, I'm just happy to get through, to be honest."

The 18-minute blitz of the American in the first set was the fastest of the tournament, that of Lara Arruabarrena on Kateryna Kozlova on the first day, but she then faced the most stubborn fightback, when Kanepi, her left shoulder and right elbow tied, shifted the average speed of hair returns from 50 miles per hour when she is processed in the second to 70 mph.

The aces began to flow in the third and Kanepi could not rediscover her former sixty.

While Williams was away, recovering from the difficult arrival of her first child a year ago, others have not convincingly argued for dominance. Caroline Wozniacki won the Australian title that Williams could not defend, Simona Halep broke through at Roland Garros and at Wimbledon Angelica Kerber lost the title by beating the American in her second comeback major. Those three title candidates were knocked out in the first week, the world No1, Halep, who fell to Kanepi, who had not dropped a set before Sunday.

The opposition gets stronger in the second week, with the eighth part, Karolina Pliskova – the last player to beat her here – waiting for Williams in the quarterfinals, and the possibility of a meeting with the defending champion, Sloane Stephens, in the semi-final – finals. Stephens looked good when she beat Elise Mehrtens 6-3, 6-3 in their fourth round game on Sunday night.

Expectations that the men's quarterfinals would bring together US Open finalists last year were fragmented when Rafael Nadal won after a dip and a fight and Kevin Anderson was a brave but exhausted loser. However, there will be a re-run of the French Open final, as Nadal's opponent will be Dominic Thiem tomorrow.

Nikoloz Basilashvili, the last player without discs on this side of the draw, took only one match from Nadal in their only previous meeting, last year at the French Open, but he probably played the match of his life at Arthur Ashe Court on Sunday, and Nadal had to pick up stern as flickering resistance to win 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4.

"Two difficult games in a row" was the answer from Nadal when asked if this was more difficult than his long four-piece against the Russian Karen Khachanov on Friday. "In the beginning I had great chances, but he played fantastic, he praises the ball very much, I think I improved my level at the end, I did what I had to do, I found a way. "As far as Thiem is concerned, he said:" He is a big opponent, serving great, it will be difficult. "

The Austrian, a former finalist at Roland Garros this year, was strangely out of the grading during the first week of the last big and the ninth seed admits he will change surface and will probably have no favors against the defending champion.

"On clay, it is one of the biggest challenges in the sport to beat this guy or to compete with him," Thiem said. "I hope it's a bit more comfortable on a hard job, but I'm not sure."

Their mutual preference goes to Nadal 7-3, the most recent meeting in Paris, when the undisputed tailor Thiem only allowed nine matches in two hours and 42 minutes. In fact, they have already played their 10 games on clay, but Nadal has a pedigree on all surfaces.

It was hard not to feel sorry for the whole Anderson when Thiem put him on the sword for the second time in their eight meetings, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2) in two hours and 37 minutes.

The 6ft 8in South African, who in the final of last year drove three sets with Nadal and did the same against Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon this year, had no problem with being again ignored for a place on the show track of the tournament.

"I understand the guys at Ashe are superstars of our sport," he said. "They are watching a lot of people, I still have to win a few tournaments to get out of there, I wanted to be here until the end and put myself in the fight to win my first major." It was not the intention. & # 39;

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