Serena Williams reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Kaia Kenepi in the US Open today, keeping her hopes alive for a third straight Flushing Meadows crown.
The top-seeded Williams, who lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open, the second round of the French Open and third round of Wimbledon, said she felt the pressure of getting to the quarters in New York.
"I finally made a quarterfinal this year!" Williams said in her on-court interview, raising her hands to the cheers of the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I think I felt it in my service game. I'm like, 'Can I please make it to a Grand Slam quarters this year?' So glad to do it in New York."
That drive to do it this year was bad news for the 50th-ranked Kanepi. Williams won 12 straight points on her serve to start the match, a streak that included five of her eight aces.
Williams next plays 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over 29th-seeded Casey Dellacqua.
Pennetta, who reached the semifinals of the US Open last year, said she needed to do her best with the tools she has to have a chance against the No. 1-ranked Williams, who already holds 17 Grand Slam titles.
"You cannot invent something. I mean, you just have to play your tennis," Pennetta said. "Of course, she's better than me, but if I still believe I can beat her, maybe if she doesn't have a good day, I can do that."
Playing mostly mistake-free tennis, top-seeded Novak Djokovic reached the quarterfinals for the eighth year in a row - and 22nd consecutive Grand Slam tournament overall.
Djokovic, the 2011 champion at Flushing Meadows, made only 19 unforced errors, saved both break points he faced, and breezed past 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.
The last time Djokovic was eliminated before the quarterfinals at a major was a third-round loss to Kohlschreiber at the 2009 French Open.
Next up for the Serb, who reached the U.S. Open each of the past four years, will be a match against 2012 U.S. Open champion Andy Murray or ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Unlike the men's side, which entered today with only one major upset, No. 4 David Ferrer, the women's draw has been decimated. Only Williams, No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki have survived among the top 10 seeds going into the tournament's second week.
Victoria Azarenka, the No. 16 seed and US Open finalist loser to Williams the last two years, sought a place in the quarterfinals with a night match against 145th-ranked qualifier Aleksandra Krunic. Bouchard was seeking her spot with a matchup against No. 17-seeded Ekatarina Makarova.
In other early action, the No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan rolled on in their quest for a 100th career title with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over US countrymen Bradley Klahn and Tim Smyzek. The Bryans, who hold a record 15 Grand Slam tournament titles, have yet to drop a set on their road to the quarterfinals.
And the darling of the US Open, 15-year-old CiCi Bellis, opened her pursuit of the junior girls' crown with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Mexico's Renata Zarazua.
Bellis, the top-seeded junior, played in the grandstand, the third-largest venue, to accommodate fans eager to watch the 15-year-old prodigy. Bellis upset of 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, the Australian Open runner-up, in the first round of the main draw.