Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep needed to come from behind to battle past home favourite Ajla Tomljanovic and reach the third round of the Australian Open, 4-6 6-4 7-5.
The Romanian second seed raced into a two game lead at the start of the match, only for Tomljanovic to steal the next four, before Halep levelled at 4-4. But the Australian’s confidence wasn’t dented, as she broke again to take the first set 6-4.
The pair exchanged breaks in the second set, until Halep got the better of Tomljanovic’s serve in the seventh game to go 4-3 up, and eventually served out the set to level at one-set all.
But it was the decider where the drama really came to life, as Tomljanovic opened up a 5-2 lead and looked destined to produce the win of her career.
Halep, though, is known as a fierce competitor, and broke back when her opponent served for the match at 5-3.
rom there, the former French Open and Wimbledon champion took the next four games to end the hopes of Tomljanovic – who had threatened to pull off one of the upsets of the tournament so far – taking the deciding set 7-5.
Speaking after the match, Halep said she expected a tough encounter, but maybe not quite as hard as it ended up being.
“I’m happy I can smile now, I was not that positive when I was talking to myself”, she said after she was asked about berating herself at the baseline when she was down in the decider.
“I didn’t talk about the score, I was just saying I’m not strong enough to play against her, but in the end mentally I was a little bit stronger.
“I had the desire to win the match, and I didn’t want to give up”.
Halep faces Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova next, an opponent she doesn’t know much about.
“I don’t believe we’ve played against each other, so it’s going to be a new challenge. I will watch a little bit of video. But I just want to recover after this match. If I’ll be 100% in two days, that’s great.”