Five-time champion Serena Williams recovered from a
set and 4-2 down to overhaul upset-minded Dominika Cibulkova 2-6,
6-4, 6-2 for a place in the fourth round of the Miami Masters on
The top seed and world number one looked lumbering and flat-footed in the first set before suddenly shifting gears and exploding into form against the 13th seed from Slovakia.
Williams will play for the quarter-finals when she faces China's fifth seed Li Na, playing at her first event since losing the Australian Open final in late January to Victoria Azarenka, where she suffered an ankle injury.
Li advanced over Spanish teenager Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (8-6), 6-2.
Willians admitted she needed to give herself a kick-start to rev up her game after trailing pocket rocket Cibulkova, a dynamo despite standing only 1.61 metres.
"I was making so many errors," said Williams, who last won the event five years ago. "I had to pull it all together."
Williams ended with 41 unforced errors and 40 winners, bolstered by 13 aces. She broke on six of nine chances in a struggle lasting just under two hours.
Williams ended the second set with an ace and finished the match with two more in a concluding flourish. The 31-year-old American stands 6-2 over Li, with the pair splitting two matches in 2012.
On the men's side of the draw, French eighth seed Richard Gasquet beat Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-4 while Spanish tenth seed Nicolas Almagro accounted for Belgian David Goffin 6-3, 6-4.
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