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Serena Williams moved into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open after shaking off a tough fourth-round challenge Sunday in New York.

The 17th-seeded American defeated unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted 99 minutes – even though Williams took the opening set in 19 minutes.

“It wasn’t an easy match at all,” Williams said. “(Kanepi has) had a lot of big wins in her career. I was just happy to get through it to be honest.”

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Williams, 36, was one year and one day removed from giving birth to a daughter. Since returning to the tour this year, she reached the fourth round at the French Open and the final at Wimbledon.

Kanepi, a 33-year-old veteran ranked 44th in the world, reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open last year, matching her best career Grand Slam result.

Williams finished with an 18-4 edge in aces. The key was the American converting five of seven break-point opportunities. Kanepi broke Williams’ serve twice in three chances.

Williams’ quarterfinal opponent will be Karolina Pliskova. The eighth-seeded Czech player defeated 18th-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-4, 6-4.

Two years ago, Pliskova upset Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals before losing to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final. That was Pliskova’s lone appearance in a Grand Slam title match.

“I really was feeling great that year. I’m feeling great now, too,” Pliskova said. “But it was a little bit different story, 2016. I was, like, a dark horse. Nobody was expecting me to get that far.

“I know she was the best at that time, but I just wanted to win. So that’s why I won, because I believed I have a chance. I have a game to beat her.”

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Pliskova shook off all eight break points on her serve while breaking Barty on both of her opportunities.

Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, the 19th seed, posted an up-and-down, 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 victory over seventh-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

Sevastova produced a 30-12 edge in winners while also committing fewer unforced errors, 28-27.

Next up for Sevastova is a quarterfinal matchup with either defending champion Sloane Stephens of the United States, the third seed, or 15th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium. Stephens and Mertens face off later Sunday night.

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