Spirited Williams surges to victory

NEW YORK — Already having let a big early lead slip away in the U.S. Open’s fourth round, Serena Williams was facing a break point and in danger of falling behind Ana Ivanovic, a former No. 1 and Grand Slam title-winner.

A six-stroke exchange ended with Ivanovic netting a forehand to make the game score deuce. Up near the net, Williams held up a clenched fist and yelled, loud as can be: "Come on!"

It’s a rallying cry often heard from the 29-year-old American, her first such display of this afternoon. Calling the match on TV, seven-time major champion John McEnroe said, "Scared me."

Whether that sort of in-your-face yell is meant to frighten opponents or not, it appeared to have that very effect. Williams took the next two points, too, starting a run of five consecutive games that allowed her to regain the upper hand in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the 16th-seeded Ivanovic on Monday.

Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki also got a major scare before rallying past Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Asked afterward whether she tries to be intimidating on court, 13-time Grand Slam champion Williams replied: "No, I don’t try. I just am."

Williams, a three-time champion at the U.S. Open, is back in a major quarterfinal for the first time since she won the Wimbledon championship in 2010, a 14-month gap filled with health scares that kept her off tour for nearly a year.

The lack of matches pushed Williams’ ranking down to 175th, and while consecutive hard-court titles at Stanford and Toronto raised it, she’s seeded only 28th in New York.

But Ivanovic said Williams undoubtedly is the favorite to win the tournament. Keep in mind: Williams is the only remaining woman with a Grand Slam title to her credit, after losses Monday by Ivanovic, Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone.

Kuznetsova, who won the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open, was leading top-seeded Wozniacki, taking the first set and going up 4-1 in the second before falling apart and losing 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-1 in a match that lasted 3 hours, 2 minutes and finished at 11:29 p.m.

Wozniacki reeled off 12 of the last 14 games by getting more aggressive — and by benefiting from all of Kuznetsova’s unforced errors, 78 in all.

On the men’s side, eighth-seeded Mardy Fish, the highest-ranked American, lost to 11th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Tsonga next will face No. 3 seed Roger Federer, who reached the quarterfinals at a 30th straight Grand Slam tournament with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 win over 36th-ranked Juan Monaco.

The top seed, Novak Djokovic, opened his fourth-round match with a thrilling 16-14 first-set tiebreaker win over No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov. Things got easier from there in a 7-6 (14), 6-4, 6-2 victory.

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