No.2 Angelique Kerber tamped down a late challenge from the tricky Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to continue her US Open campaign, 6-2, 7-6(6).
In 2014 the Croatian player famously took out the No.2 seeded Simona Halep here in the third round to earn her giant-killer reputation. But this time she ran into a rock-solid Kerber, who's bid for No.1 remains a big motivator.
Kerber launched ahead in the first set, breaking twice and steamrolling against an uncharacteristically tentative Lucic-Baroni. Lucic-Baroni hit 24 unforced errors to Kerber's six in the opening set, with 14 winners against Kerber's four.
The romp continued into the second set, where Kerber quickly built up a 4-1 lead. But that's when things started getting complicated.
"It was still good for me, but I think she was playing better and she was going for it," Kerber said. "Then she was not making too many mistakes like in the first set. For me, I was a little bit short then, so she had the chance to go for it."
Go for it Lucic-Baroni did, breaking Kerber twice to level the match at 4-4. The Croat held set point three times, once on Kerber's serve at 5-4 and twice in the tiebreaker, but the German brought out her dogged defense when it counted, and edged through to the third round after an hour and 32 minutes.
Kerber will face the winner in the match between Cici Bellis and Shelby Rogers for a spot in the fourth round. Both are Americans, which is always a daunting task for a player to face at the US Open.
"Actually, I'm looking forward [to playing an American]," Kerber said. "I mean, the crowd is great here. They are supporting everybody. To play against an American, it will be a challenge, but I'm looking forward."