AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Facing a determined opponent in swirling winds, top seed Serena Williams battled back from a one-set deficit to reach the quarterfinals at the ASB Classic.
In exactly two hours, Williams defeated compatriot Christina McHale, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, as the younger American won a set against the all-time great for the third time in the pair's four career meetings, but again proved unable to complete an upset bid.
"It was a good match for me, because I really need to play matches like that to get to my goals," Williams said on-court after the match.
"Tournament time is super important and match time is good. It's fun to be out here after losing that first set, and I'm glad I'm still in the event.
"I just thought I needed to figure out a way to win this match."
A complete contrast to Williams' first-round foe, Italian Camila Giorgi, the 27-year-old New Jersey native used her counterpunching skills and foot speed to great effect over the course of the first half of the match, extending rallies and forcing the 23-time Grand Slam champion into hitting one more ball -- and often, an unforced error.
Nonetheless, the World No.10 found a late spark in the opener after losing four of the first five games of the match, and carried that momentum across the second and third sets.
"I got myself in a hole and I was able to get out of it, so that was satisfying," Williams continued.
"I just think today, I just got mad, and honestly, I said that I wanted to win more than one match here in New Zealand. I thought about that, and sometimes, it's the craziest things that get you motivated.
"I just was making a lot of errors, and I stopped making so many and tried to be a little more aggressive. I was playing a player who was playing unbelievable, so I had to play better."
Williams broke McHale a combined five times to complete the comeback, surrendering her own serve just once over the course of sets two and three.
Another American will not stand between Williams and a semifinal berth, however, thanks to German veteran Laura Siegemund.
The former Top 30 player came from a set down herself to defeat 15-year-old Coco Gauff earlier in Thursday's day session, and the two will face off for the first time in nearly four years in the last eight.