New York - Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber kept her bid for a second US Open title on track on Thursday, outlasting Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
Germany's Kerber was knocked out in the first round last year in her defense of a 2016 US Open title that pushed her to number one in the world.
Thanks to her comprehensive victory over US great Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final she returned to the Big Apple back in the top five in the world, aiming to join Serena and her sister Venus as the only women in the last 20 years to win both Wimbledon and the US Open in the same season.
Kerber was cruising with a 5-2 lead in the second set when Larsson, seeking a first win over a top-five player, found her range.
Larsson won the next five games -- fending off two match points against her own serve -- to take the second set.
It was a dogfight the rest of the way in a third set that featured five breaks of serve.
Kerber secured the last one for a 5-4 lead and after falling behind 0-30 roared back to take the game on her third match point, letting out a cry of mingled triumph and relief when Larsson sent a groundstroke long.
"I think we both really played on a really high level from the first point," Kerber said. "At the end it was just one or two points that decided the match."
Kerber will take on Dominika Cibulkova for a spot in the round of 16 after the Slovakian beat Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4.
US Open results on Thursday, the fourth day of the 2018 tournament at Flushing Meadows (x denotes seeded player):
Marin Cilic (CRO x7) bt Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-2, 6-0, 6-0
Alex De Minaur (AUS) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-4, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) bt Julien Benneteau (FRA) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
David Goffin (BEL x10) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-2, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-2
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x13) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2
Kei Nishikori (JPN x21) bt Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-2, 5-4 - retired
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) bt Matthew Ebden (AUS) 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-2, 6-0
Alexander Zverev (GER x4) bt Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
Novak Djokovic (SRB x6) bt Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-2
Richard Gasquet (FRA x26) bt Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Lucas Pouille (FRA x17) bt Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Joao Sousa (POR) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x12) 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 2-0 - retired
John Millman (AUS) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x14) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) bt Chung Hyeon (KOR x23) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-3
Nick Kyrgios (AUS x30) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 6-0
Roger Federer (SUI x2) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 7-5, 6-4, 6-4
Caroline Garcia (FRA x6) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-2, 1-6, 6-4
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x30) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
Maria Sharapova (RUS x22) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROM) 6-2, 7-5
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x10) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Madison Keys (USA x14) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4, 6-1
Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-1, 6-3
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x29) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER x4) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
Petra Kvitova (CZE x5) bt Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-5, 6-3
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x26) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-3, 7-6 (9/7)
Naomi Osaka (JPN x20) bt Julia Glushko (ISR) 6-2, 6-0
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS x11) 6-2, 7-6 (7/3)
Kiki Bertens (NED x13) bt Francesca Di Lorenzo (USA) 6-2, 6-1
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) bt Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 6-4, 6-3
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4)
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x2) 6-4, 6-2