Kim Clijsters needed all her fighting qualities to keep her US Open defence alive and cap an extraordinary day of titanic struggles at the last grand slam of the season yesterday.
Now unbeaten at Flushing Meadows in 19 matches dating back over five years, the Belgian regained her composure when she needed it most to reel off four games in a row and defeat Australia's Samantha Stosur 6-4 5-7 6-3 in an error-prone but absorbing center court clash.
She now faces Venus Williams in Friday's semi-finals after the former world number one kept the host nation in the championship with a 7-6 6-4 win over French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.
The United States' hopes of winning the men's title were extinguished when Sam Querrey lost a four and a half hour armwrestle with Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 6-7 7-5 4-6 6-4, the first of two five-setters on a marathon eighth day that did not finish until 1.16am this morning.
The Spanish pair of Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer also slugged it out at the Louis Armstrong Stadium for nearly four and a half hours before Verdasco emerged victorious 5-7 6-7 6-3 6-3 7-6, sealing his win with a spectacular winner that went round the net post.
Wawrinka, who upset Andy Murray in the third round, faces 12th seed Mikhail Youzhny next after the Russian outclassed Tommy Robredo, one of five Spanish men in action, 7-5 6-2 4-6 6-4.
Clijsters provided a fairytale ending to last year's US Open when she returned to the game after taking time out to start a family and won the championship four years after her only previous grand slam success.
The second seed had cruised through her first four matches this year in straight sets but found herself in deep trouble against Stosur when she began struggling with her serve in the swirling wind and admitted she was lucky to escape.
"I still didn't play a good match but I was obviously able to win it," she said.
"At the end of the day, what we try to do out here, is try to win the matches whether you play good or bad."
The Australian, who made the French Open final in June and saved four match points in her fourth round win over Elena Dementieva, led 3-2 in the final set before her own serve failed her and Clijsters won the remaining four games to seal victory.
"I'm happy to make it to the quarters, by far my best result here (but) I'm gonna be disappointed about this one," Stosur said.
"You can't break serve and have chance after chance after chance and blow it in a quarter-final.
"It's just too big of an opportunity to kind of let go, and unfortunately that's what I did today."