Venus Williams came through a test that was tougher than expected against Israel's Shahar Peer to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the 10th time.
The No. 3-seeded Williams beat the 16th-seeded Peer 7-6 (3), 6-3 Sunday, and will face French Open champion Francesca Schiavone for a semifinal berth.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Williams is playing in her first tournament in more than two months, having missed time with a left kneecap injury that forced her to skip a pair of hard-court tuneup events.
She entered Sunday 5-0 against Peer, including 3-0 in 2010; she won all 10 sets they'd played previously, never dropping more than four games in any. But the 30-year-old Williams found herself in a first-set struggle.
"Winning the first set always feels good," said Williams, whose younger sister Serena watched from the stands, "instead of having to regroup and figuring out how you're going to win the match."
That, of course, is where Peer was left. And she probably must have thought she deserved to take that opening set. Peer broke Williams' big serve twice and played solidly, making only 13 unforced errors, three fewer than the American, who appeared to be bothered by the swirling wind inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"In these conditions, it's not easy," Williams said.
Serving while down 6-5, Peer feel behind love-40, but saved those three set points. Peer would go on to save two more set points in that game, a 22-point, 11-minute marathon that featured eight deuces.
But Williams finally found her form in the tiebreaker, taking four consecutive points - including a service winner and ace - to lead 5-1. There was one more blip for Venus, a double-fault at 6-2, her sixth set point, but she closed it with a big cross-court forehand that forced an error by Peer.
Williams was much more solid in the second set, and will take a 7-0 career head-to-head record over Schiavone into their meeting. The sixth-seeded Italian defeated 20th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2003.
Peer hasn't made the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament since 2007, when she made her only appearances in that round, at the Australian Open and U.S. Open.
Williams is a seven-time Grand Slam champion, with titles at Flushing Meadows in 2000 and 2001. But before coming to New York this year, Williams hadn't competed anywhere since June 29, when she was upset in the Wimbledon quarterfinals by a woman ranked 82nd.
David Ferrer (10), Spain, def. Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Spain, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2.
Fernando Verdasco (8), Spain, def. David Nalbandian (31), Argentina, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Sam Querrey (20), United States, def. Nicolas Almagro (14), Spain, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Feliciano Lopez (23), Spain, def. Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine, 6-3, 4-0, retired.
Kim Clijsters (2), Belgium, def. Ana Ivanovic, Serbia, 6-2, 6-1.
Francesca Schiavone (6), Italy, def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (20), Russia, 6-3, 6-0.
Venus Williams (3), United States, def. Shahar Peer (16), Israel, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Wesley Moodie, South Africa, and Dick Norman (10), Belgium, def. Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares, Brazil, 6-2, 6-2.
Rohan Bopanna, India, and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi (16), Pakistan, def. Daniel Nestor, Canada, and Nenad Zimonjic (2), Serbia, 6-3, 6-4.
Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski (9), Poland, def. Jeremy Chardy, France, and Christopher Kas, Germany, 6-2, 6-4.
Evan King, United States, def. Jason Kubler (6), Australia, 7-5, 6-1.
Mitchell Frank (16), United States, def. Darian King, Barbados, 6-4, 6-1.
Oliver Golding, Britain, def. Andres Artunedo Martinavarr, Spain, 7-6 (9), 6-3.
Agustin Velotti (8), Argentina, def. Matthias Wunner, Germany, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Jozef Kovalik, Slovakia, def. Bjorn Fratangelo, United States, 6-3, 6-4.
Mate Delic, Croatia, def. Michael Redlicki, United States, 6-3, 6-4.
Giammarco Micolani, Italy, def. Dane Webb, United States, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4.
Victor Baluda (13), Russia, def. Ben Wagland, Australia, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Ellen Tsay, United States, def. Ulrikke Eikeri, Norway, 7-5, 6-0.
Sloane Stephens (15), United States, def. Silvia Njiric, Croatia, 6-1, 6-3.
Jana Cepelova (10), Slovakia, def. Ilona Kremen, Belarus, 6-4, 6-2.
Elina Svitolina (4), Ukraine, def. Katarena Paliivets, Canada, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Veronica Cepede Royg, Paraguay, def. Grace Min, United States, 7-6 (5), 6-0.
Monica Puig (5), Puerto Rico, def. Madison Keys, United States, 6-4, 6-4.
Caroline Price, United States, def. Zarah Razafimahatratra, Madagascar, 6-3, 6-3.
Anastasiya Vasylyeva, Ukraine, def. Chantal Skamlova, Slovakia, 7-5, 6-3.
Daria Gavrilova (1), Russia, def. Lauren Davis, United States, 6-3, 6-1.
Tian Ran, China, def. Margarita Gasparyan, Russia, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.