Brave Halep wins marathon to reach fourth round

Australian Open: Top Seed Simona Halep Survives a Marathon Match

The 17th-seeded Keys, who lost in the U.S. Open final a year ago to Sloane Stephens, saved three break points serving for the match, finally clinching it on her first match point.

"I'm nearly dead but it was nice that we could show good tennis", Halep said in the on-court interview, raising a laugh from the crowd. "The feeling in my muscles is gone and I don't feel my ankle anymore". "My ankle is. I don't know how it is because I don't feel it any more".

Simona Halep says she was "almost dead" after her grueling 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 third-round win over Lauren Davis that equaled the longest match at the Australian Open in terms of games played.

Halep served for the match on four occasions, before eventually closing out a final set that lasted more than two hours. This was a high quality, dramatic duel which equalled the record number of games for a women's match in Melbourne (48) and lived up to the Shakespearean phrase,"though she be but little, she is fierce".

The 2016 Australian Open victor routed Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in the third-round match on Saturday night, meaning she'll be the only Grand Slam champion in the fourth round of the women's draw.

Instead, it was Halep who progressed to face the victor of Barty's clash with Naomi Osaka, played later on Saturday. She's super agile and dynamic around the court. But she improved a lot, and I can say that she's a great athlete and also player.

It was a good match for both players, and it must have been particularly heartbreaking for the American especially after owning three match points and her broken toenail hindered her.

Day 6 was the end of the road for Maria Sharapova in her first Melbourne appearance after her doping ban, as she was beaten 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour by the superb Angelique Kerber.

Australian Open: Top Seed Simona Halep Survives a Marathon Match
Kerber downs Sharapova in Melbourne masterclass

She broke Halep three times when the Romanian had served for the match and came within an whisker of the biggest win of her career.

Against Davis, however, Halep held her nerve as the third set wore on and her 24-year-old opponent seemed to be gaining in confidence. Halep wasted chances to serve for the match in the ninth, 11th and 15th games, then had to save three match points in the 22nd.

"I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slams", he said after going down 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Marta Kostyuk came from the other angle, the 15-year-old qualifier followed up her first-round win over 25th-seeded Peng Shuai with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over wild-card entry Olivia Rogowska.

Photo Davis taking a medical timeout in the third set against Halep.

Among the seeded men advancing were No. 6 Marin Cilic, who beat Joao Sousa 6-1, 7-5, 6-2, and No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta, who was leading 6-2, 3-0 when Gilles Simon retired from their second-round match with a thigh injury.

But it was an hour short of the 2011 Australian Open record set as Francesca Schiavone of Italy beat Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 in 4hr 44min.

"I finished the US Open, and I was exhausted", Keys said.

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