New York: Serena Williams needed just 74 minutes to return to the U.S. Open quarterfinals Monday, beating 2008 French Open champ Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-4.
Already having let a big early lead slip away, Williams was facing a break point and in danger of falling behind Ivanovic, a former No. 1.
A six-stroke exchange ended with Ivanovic netting a forehand to make the game score deuce. Up near the net, Williams held up a clenched fist and yelled: "Come on!"
It's a rallying cry often heard from the 29-year-old American. Whether that sort of in-your-face yell is meant to frighten opponents or not, it appeared to have that very effect. Williams took the next two points, too, starting a run of five consecutive games that allowed her to regain the upper hand in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the 16th-seeded Ivanovic on Monday.
Asked afterward whether she tries to be intimidating on court, 13-time Grand Slam champion Williams replied: "No, I don't try. I just am."
Ivanovic insisted Williams didn't bother her with anything she said: "Not at all; I mean, I was screaming some 'Come ons," the Serb explained.
But what about the way Williams plays? That's another matter entirely.
"She does try to intimidate," 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic said. "She stays close to the baseline so you feel like you have no space to hit to."
And then there's Williams' serve, which is generally regarded as the most effective in women's tennis and delivered nine aces and permitted only one break against Ivanovic.
"I just have confidence in it. It's a weapon," said Williams, whose pal, filmmaker Spike Lee, sat in her guest box. "I'm just like, 'OK, I'm going to hit an ace here.' I hit an ace.'"
Williams, a three-time champion at the U.S. Open, is back in a major quarterfinal for the first time since she won the Wimbledon championship in 2010, a 14-month gap filled with health scares that kept her off tour for nearly a year.
The lack of matches pushed Williams' ranking down to 175th, and while consecutive hard-court titles at Stanford and Toronto raised it, she's seeded only 28th in New York.
Next for Williams is a match against No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who came back to beat No. 7 Francesca Schiavone of Italy 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in a ragged match. There were 16 breaks of serve in 31 total games, and the two women combined for 21 double-faults.