Simona Halep of Romania returns a shot against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain on September 5, 2016
New York (AFP) - Simona Halep punched her ticket to the US Open quarter-finals on Monday, where the fifth-ranked Romanian will likely find world number one Serena Williams waiting.
Halep, a former French Open finalist who has won three WTA titles in 2016, defeated Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 7-5 -- edging ahead in a rivalry that had seen them split their previous 10 matches 5-5.
"I just gave everything I had," said Halep, who sailed through the first set and gained an early break in the second before Suarez put the brakes on.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Halep was broken, but she broke back immediately and made no mistake with her second chance.
"I'm really happy I could win this match," said Halep, who was already looking forward to a probably clash with Williams.
"The next round will be a very tough one, so I want to enjoy this victory today," she said.
Williams, gunning for a seventh US Open title and 23rd Grand Slam crown -- both of which would be Open Era records -- was the star attraction Monday taking on 52nd-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova.
Williams has won all four of her prior meetings with the Kazakh and even though she's still receiving treatment on a balky right shoulder she has reached the round of 16 without dropping a set.
A victory over Shvedova would not only put her into the last eight, it would take her to 308 Grand slam match wins -- past Roger Federer for the most by anyone in the Open Era.
Although she seems to rack up a Grand Slam record any time she steps on the court, Williams' reign atop the world rankings is under pressure, with quarter-finalist Angelique Kerber now poised to topple her if the American doesn't reach the final.
Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who also has an outside chance of seizing the number one ranking, faces a tricky battle for a quarter-final berth against Ana Konjuh.
Poland's Radwanska had to save three match points to get past the 18-year-old Croatian in the second-round at Wimbledon this year.
In the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, Konjuh will be out to prevent Radwanska from advancing in the only major in which she has never reached the quarters.
Sixth-seeded Venus Williams was also in action, taking on hard-hitting Czech Karolina Pliskova for a place in the last eight.
The other quarter-finals have already been set, with two-time runner-up Caroline Wozniacki to face Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova in a battle of comeback kids and Kerber taking on seventh-seeded Roberta Vinci, the Italian who shocked Serena last year en route to the 2015 final, where she was beaten by compatriot Flavia Pennetta.