Kerber outlasts Larsson to reach US Open third round

Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber kept her bid for a second US Open title on track 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.