NEW YORK — Italy's Flavia Pennetta carved out a 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) victory over a fighting Peng Shuai on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open.
Pennetta, the 26th seed, had to fight to the finish against Peng, who saved one match point and gave herself four set points in the tiebreaker before Pennetta was able to reach the quarter-finals for the third time in four years.
"I like to be here," said Pennetta, who shocked third-seeded Maria Sharapova in the third round. "I just enjoy all the time when I am in New York."
Pennetta twice came back from service breaks in the second set, but after breaking Peng for a 6-5 lead she was clearly feeling the strain of the long rallies on the steamy Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Serving for the match, she had to pause at the back of the court as she felt herself becoming ill, returning to the baseline to cheers of encouragement of the crowd -- and a time warning from the chair umpire.
"I was feeling really bad," Pennetta said. "I think it was because it's really humid. And also, when you are there you have a lot of emotion. My body just needed to breathe, and I started to have the sensation of throwing up. With nothing inside, nothing came out."
After a double-fault on a foot-fault, she managed to give herself a match point at 40-30, but she couldn't convert and Peng pounced to seize the game and a quick 5-0 tiebreak lead.
Trailing 2-6 in the decider, Pennetta mustered all of her reserves to win six straight points. She saved the fourth set point against her with a forehand cross-court shot that looked headed for the alley but dropped just inside the line.
That shot, Peng said, was a morale-breaker.
"I also tried to fight," she said, but by that stage, "I couldn't really run."
Pennetta will face Angelique Kerber, who beat Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-3 in a battle of unseeded players.
It's a nice change for the Italian, who in her quarter-final appearances here in 2008 and 2009 came up against then number-one Russian Dinara Safina and Serena Williams.
"It's much better," she said.
In other fourth-round matches on Sunday, world number two Vera Zvonareva took on big-serving German Sabine Lisicki and ninth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur faced 25th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko.
Lisicki, the 22nd seed, will be out for revenge after dropping all three of her previous matches against Zvonareva, including a straight-sets defeat to the Russian in the second round here last year.
"I hope I can get revenge," said Lisicki, who is trying to better her sensational run to the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Zvonareva is trying to break through for a first major crown after reaching the finals last year at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.
The key, she said, would be use all the components of her game.
"I believe I have all kinds of shots and sometimes I'm just not using the whole arsenal," said Zvonareva, who is one of the three of the tournament's four top-seeded women without a Grand Slam title.
That list also includes world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who will face 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the quarters on Monday.
Monday will also see 13-time Grand Slam champion Williams taking on another former world number one, Ana Ivanovic, and former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone tackling Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenko for quarter-final berths.
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