Serena Williams survived another scare to beat older sister Venus 3-6 6-3 6-4 and reach the quarter-finals of the inaugural Top Seed Open in Lexington.
Serena, who in her first-round match was five points from defeat against world No.60 Bernarda Pera, rallied from a set down and then a 4-2 deciding set deficit to defeat her sibling in an entertaining two hour and 19 minute encounter.
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"I've lost a few tight sets lately, so I was telling myself I really wanted to win this one and try to focus on those last two games," she said.
"I'm super relaxed. Having no crowd sort of makes things more relaxing. I've practised in louder places than this court.
"It was a very high quality match. There was a lot of long points, running me around and then at one point it was just big serves and so I thought that was really interesting as we both started serving really well and returning well."
Serena won three games in a row to lead 5-4 in the decider and served out the match, claiming victory on her first match point.
“This was right up there,” Serena added of the three-set match.
“I’d say it was one of the all-time top five super-competitive matches between the two of us.”
Venus, 40, is ranked 67th in the world and Serena was in awe of her older sister’s game.
“She played unbelievable,” Serena added.
“She’s doing so good. I honestly don’t know how I was able to pull it off at the end. She played so well.”
Fans enjoyed the return of tennis and even more so, the first time Serena, 38, and older sister Venus, 40, had battled it out in a while.
These Williams v Williams matches are too stressful. https://t.co/GyYG3YcGLu
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) August 13, 2020
Serena Williams comes back from 2-4 in the 3rd set to beat Venus Williams 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the QFs in Lexington. In 2h20.
One of the best Serena-Venus matches I can remember.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 13, 2020
So, Lexington R2 (a WTA International)
38yo Serena Williams vs. 40yo Venus Williams
Welcome back, tennis! pic.twitter.com/tnKWzjaRVM
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 11, 2020
— wta (@WTA) August 13, 2020
🎾 This match between Serena Williams and Venus Williams is like a chess match.
Moves and counter moves.#TSOpen
— Anne-Marie Batson (@AnnemarieBatson) August 13, 2020
The American will next face either countrywoman Shelby Rogers or rising Canadian star Leylah Annie Fernandez.
Serena Williams prepares for US Open
The suspension of tennis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant that until this week, Serena had not competed on the tour since February.
As a result, the American said rather than focussing on winning the Top Seed Open, she wants to make sure she gets into top form for the August 31-September 13 US Open.
"I'm just here to play another match just to get match tough for New York," said Serena, who has failed to add to her haul of 23 grand slam titles since January 2017.
"I've done absolutely nothing but train and practise and so I am really low on the matches and so this is really helping."
Jil Teichmann is also through to the quarter-finals after overcoming Yulia Putintseva in straight sets.
The Swiss eased through 6-2 6-2 in just under an hour-and-a-half and will play Cici Bellis who defeated Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-2.