NEW YORK — The Williams sisters overcame a minor scare Wednesday. Next up: A major test.
Venus and Serena Williams overcame two service breaks in the second set to advance to the U.S. Open quarterfinals with a 6-1, 7-6 (3) victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova.
The Williams sisters, who have combined for 13 Grand Slam doubles titles, will play the defending champion and top-seeded Italian team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci on Thursday. The Italians beat the sisters in three sets in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
"We learned from the match in Australia," Venus Williams said. "Obviously, they play well, they play often. They're a great team, so we're going to learn from that and go for it tomorrow."
The doubles is keeping Serena Williams sharp during her two-day break between Tuesday night's 6-0, 6-0 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro in the singles quarterfinals and her meeting with Li Na in Friday's semifinals.
Vinci, meanwhile, lost to Flavia Pennetta in singles Wednesday and now only has doubles. She and Errani have three Grand Slam titles, including this year's Australian Open.
"Honestly, a different draw would have been better," Vinci said. "We'll see whether Serena already is thinking about the (singles) semifinals. If we play them, it'll be very, very hard. ... They serve well, return well. But Venus is playing a bit less well than (Serena), so we'll need to go after Venus more."
In Wednesday's match, the Williams sisters lost only three points on their serve in the first set, but both sisters got broken once in the second. The second break came against Serena when she was trying to serve out the match at 5-4.
The Williams' won the first five points of the tiebreaker, lost the next three, then closed it out two points after that on Serena's service winner.
"I can always blame her if things don't go right," Serena joked in her on-court interview. "She's the older sister so she always takes the blame. I'm never wrong."