Serena Williams saved a match point Monday before beating Vera Dushevina of Russia 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in the longest match of her career to reach the third round of the Madrid Masters.
The top-seeded American wasted three set points in the first and then faced a match point on her serve when trailing 6-5 in the second, but managed to hold on despite her game being littered with unforced errors.
Williams looked set to close out the match when she broke serve to go 5-2 up, but squandered the lead and then trailed 4-0 in the decisive tiebreaker before sealing the win in 3 hours, 26 minutes. It was the longest match Williams has ever played, according to the WTA Tour.
"I definitely feel really proud because I definitely wasn't playing my best tennis and I was far off playing well," Williams said. "Also, at that point I wasn't going to lose. After three hours, I'd better win."
Williams left the court for treatment when 3-2 up in the third set and returned with a strapped right thigh. She said she did not yet know how serious her leg injury was.
In another second-round match, Francesca Schiavone beat Sybille Bammer 6-2, 6-1.
In first-round action, Peng Shuai advanced when 10th-seeded Victoria Azarenka while trailing 3-0. Anabel Medina Garrigues, eighth-seeded Samantha Stosur, 14th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, 16th-seeded Nadia Petrova, Alisa Kleybanova and Patty Schnyder also won.
In the men's first round, qualifier Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. of Ukraine beat Italy's Andrea Seppi 6-3, 6-4 and will meet Rafael Nadal in the second round. Austria's Jurgen Melzer beat South African qualifier Kevin Anderson 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 to set up a meeting with either David Nalbandian or Tomas Berdych.
Twelfth-seeded Gael Monfils of France beat compatriot Stephane Robert 6-2, 7-5.