Melbourne: In what was described by commentators as the match of the Australian Open 2018, World No.1 Simona Halep narrowly made it through to the round of 16 on Saturday after edging out American Lauren Davis in an epic 3-set contest that ended 4-6, 6-4, 15-13.
Up in the first set, the world number 76 seemed to have Halep rattled as she blasted her powerful backhand shot past the Romanian, reports Xinhua news agency.
But when the two squared off in the second set, the tournament’s top seed regained her composure and began to take control of the tussle.
It appeared over when Halep served for the match at 5-4 in the third set. However a desperate Davis was able to hold on and break Halep.
With no tie-break in the deciding final set at the Australian Open, the battle quickly transformed from a tennis match into an all out war of attrition, as the pair fought tirelessly to break serve and outlast each other.
It looked like Davis would pull off one of the shocks of the tournament when the score was 11-10, however, a determined Halep managed to survive three match points and claw her way into the lead at 14-13.
In the 114-year history of the Australian open, the epic three hour and 44 minute duel equalled the record for most games played in a women’s match.
Although Halep eventually got the better of the 24-year-old, appreciative spectators applauded Davis as if she had won the entire tournament.
“She played great,” an exhausted Halep told Xinhua. “It was not easy, but I just kept playing and I just kept believing that it’s not over, even if she is leading.”
“It was the only match that I have played like this, it was very tough and I gave everything I had.”
The pair’s incredible performances were made even more impressive when both players later confessed they were also struggling with injuries.
Halep carried a leg problem into the tournament and said she “felt the pain, through the whole match.”
While Davis revealed she lost a toe nail during the epic third set.
“It was very difficult,” Davis said. “I was just jamming it a lot with how much I was moving around the court.”
“I felt something and I couldn’t really put any pressure — it was my right toe,” she added.