(Reuters) - Venus Williams fended off three match points before outlasting Dutch 29th seed Kiki Bertens 5-7 6-3 7-5 in a three-hour, third-round marathon at the Miami Open on Sunday.
The tournament looked like losing yet another big name when Williams fell behind 4-1 in the third set on centre court at Crandon Park in south Florida.
However, she remained more poised on the big points and eventually won on serve when Bertens could only tap the ball back across the net, allowing Williams to put away the winner.
“I’m not sure,” eighth seed Williams said in an on-court interview when asked how she had pulled off the victory in a match that had 15 breaks of serve.
“I had a lot of chances; she had a lot of chances. It didn’t look good sometimes but that’s why you keep playing to the last point and why I love this game.”
Venus’s survival to fight another day came as the women’s draw remained wide open after the earlier ousting of her sister Serena, along with top seed Simona Halep and last week’s Indian Wells winner Naomi Osaka.
Venus will meet British defending champion Johanna Konta in the next round, after the 11th seed crushed Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-2 6-1.
Konta delivered 23 winners and had 17 unforced errors, while Mertens, a 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist, was slowed by 26 unforced errors and had only 11 winners.
“I have really great memories from last year,” said Konta in a on-court interview. “I want to thank everyone for coming out and making my return to the center court a special one.”
Australian Ashleigh Barty, the 21st seed, took down Croatia’s Petra Martic 6-4 6-3, while Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-3 7-5.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Additional reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Clare Fallon