Mario Sarmento

Serena Williams showed her championship mettle when she fought off three set points in a first-set tiebreaker to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, and maintain hopes of winning a seventh Sony Open Tennis title Thursday night.

Down 5-3 in the opening set, Williams won three straight games to take a 6-5 lead. With Shvedova ahead 6-3 in the tiebreak and facing set point, Williams won four straight points – two on aces – to forge ahead again. After Shvedova evened the tiebreak on the very next point, Williams took advantage of a second serve to hit a blistering forehand winner to retake the lead.

Williams was the beneficiary of some luck on the next point, as Shvedova’s forehand found the net before bouncing over, and Williams cleaned up with an easy backhand winner to take the set. The World No. 1 said the tough first set should help her throughout the rest of the tournament. “It’s definitely going to help, knowing that I was able to pull that through after being down, you know, pretty drastically,” she said.

Williams carried over that momentum to the second set, where she rolled to victory. Williams will next face Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, who defeated Klara Zakopalova 7-6(3), 7-6(3).

Notes: Williams donned a smart outfit with colors paying homage to the hometown Miami Dolphins, the NFL franchise she co-owns.