Simona Halep was forced to save three match points as she survived a major scare against the USA’s Lauren Davis in a match that lasted just short of four hours on Rod Laver Arena.
The world No. 1 recovered from a set down and survived a stunning 142-minute final set to beat her opponent 4-6 6-4 15-13 in a match that equalled the women’s singles Australian Open record for longest match in terms of games played.
Remarkably, Halep entered the contest with an ankle problem, sustained in her first-round match, and she admitted she couldn’t ‘feel it any more’ after limping through one of the matches of the tournament.
‘I never played a third set so long. I’m almost dead,’ Halep said.
‘My muscles are gone. I don’t know how my ankle is because I can’t feel it any more.’
World No. 76 Davis – who also required treatment for injury during the contest – had three consecutive match points when at 0-40 on Halep’s serve but the Romanian held firm.
However, she was proud of her efforts on an epic night at Melbourne Park.
‘I’m very tired,’ Davis said. ‘But, I mean, there is a lot to take away from that match. I played really, really well.
‘Left all that I had out there on the court, and I did all that I could do. I think there is quite a few positives to take away from and to learn from, so things are looking up, I think.’
Up next for Halep will be either Ash Barty or Naomi Osaka, with Karolina PLiskova, Caroline Garcia and Madison Keys all progressing to the last-16.