Serena Williams has overcome a shaky start to book an Australian Open fourth-round berth with a straight-sets win over Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova.
The seven-times champion had to recover from 5-3 down and save two set points in the first set before recording a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 victory over the former Wimbledon junior champion on Friday.
Potapova served for the opening set at 5-3 only to cough up two double faults to invite Williams back in.
The 19-year-old then led 5-3 in the tiebreaker before losing four points in a row to concede the set and match momentum.
Potapova took an injury time-out while trailing 4-1 in the second set, but it couldn’t stop Williams from advancing after an hour and 37 minutes to the last 16 in Melbourne for a mind-boggling 16th time.
“It definitely feels good to be in the fourth round and it’s so good to get through that match,” the 10th seed said.
“I felt like I came out not off to the starting blocks like I would have wanted to and like I have been since I’ve been playing here.
“But it’s about surviving and playing better every round.”
Bidding for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles crown, the 39-year-old American will take on in-form seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus on Sunday for a quarter-final spot.