MELBOURNE — Sixth seed Venus Williams clawed back from a set down to beat Italian 17th seed Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 and reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Monday.
An out-of-sorts Williams looked headed for a shock defeat when she lost the first set, but she recovered her composure to gradually take control against an increasingly frustrated Schiavone.
The 29-year-old Williams appeared almost disinterested during the 38-minute first set, but after taking a short "bathroom break" she came out a different player in the second.
Shots that were going long and wide in the first set began to fall in, while Schiavone, who hardly missed in the first set, began to succumb to the pressure as the match wore on.
Williams' serve, which usually allows the tall American to win a host of cheap points, also picked up with her first serve percentage success rate increasing from 45 percent in the first set to 67 percent in the third.
It was Williams' sixth win over Schiavone in as many meetings and only the second time the Italian has taken a set off the seven-time Grand Slam champion.
Williams now faces a quarter-final against either fourth seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki or China's 16th seed Li Na ahead of a possible semi-final showdown against younger sister Serena.
Meanwhile, China's 16th-seeded Li Na won through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open when she upset Danish fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3 on Monday.
Li will face Williams in the last eight.