Fifth seed Elina Svitolina knocked Venus Williams out of the US Open to reach the third round on Wednesday despite an heroic defensive effort from the 39-year-old former champion.
Trailing 5-3 in the second set, seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams saved five match points to hold serve in a dramatic 22-point game.
The 24-year-old Ukrainian, who has reached the fourth round of the US Open for the past two years, struggled to convert break points throughout the match, winning just four out of 17.
Svitolina, who beat Williams in the first round at Roland Garros this year, called the American an “inspiration”.
“I had to stay very focused,” said the 24-year-old Ukrainian, who next faces either compatriot Dayana Yastremska or Rebecca Peterson. “She’s a very experienced player so she knows how to handle (these) moments.”
On a rain-affected day in New York, Svitolina was one of just three women to progress to the third round.
The others were No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova — a 6-1 6-4 winner over Georgian qualifier Mariam Bolkvadze — and 10th seed Madison Keys, who accounted for China’s Zhu Lin 6-4 6-1.
Second seed Ash Barty and six-time champion Serena Williams are playing in the night session.
Keys, the recent Cincinnati winner, won 11 of the final 13 games after trailing 3-1 in the opening set.
“After I got broken in the first set, I feel like I played some really good tennis and was really happy with my performance today,” she said.
A finalist at the US Open in 2017, Keys will next meet either 20th seed Sofia Kenin or German Laura Siegemund. Should she and Svitolina keep winning, they would meet in the fourth round — a repeat of their dramatic fourth-round clash two years ago, which Keys won en route to the final.
“A couple of years ago, obviously I was feeling good then, but I’m feeling good now,” Keys said.
“I think I’ve had some really good matches so far and just looking forward to my next round.”
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