On a night when her best was elusive against a younger, primer challenger who bent and bent some more but would not break, Serena Williams was forced to conjure the determination, grit and imagination she has made appear routine on the court where her legend took flight.
The world No1 was pushed to the limit by the fifth-seeded Simona Halep in a thrilling US Open quarter-final on Wednesday under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium, finally outlasting the game Romanian for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 win that lifted her into the last four for the ninth straight major.
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Halep broke Williams for the first time all tournament in the opener. Then she did it again. And she warded off all 12 break points she faced during a second set where the top seed’s error-strewn play augured disaster. But the 22-times grand slam champion righted herself in the decider and survived her sternest challenge of the season-ending major so far.