Simona Halep finally topples Lauren Davis after epic 143-minute final set
World number one Simona Halep survived a titanic tussle with America’s Lauren Davis to reach the Australian Open fourth round – fighting back from a set down and saving three match points in a classic that stretched towards the four-hour mark.
The Romanian eventually served out the match at the fourth attempt to complete a 4-6 6-4 15-13 win.
In a match far beyond its billing as a third-round tie, Halep and Davis saw momentum flirt with them both but commit to neither.
And after two engaging opening sets were split, Rod Laver Arena burst into life in the decider.
Davis, belittling her WTA ranking of 76, shifted Halep around the court with an all-or-nothing style that produced a flurry of winners to mask a threateningly high unforced error count.
But after breaking Halep on three occasions to stay in the contest, the 24-year-old blew her chance to secure the biggest win of her career when she failed to convert 0-40 on the Halep serve at 11-10.
She immediately called for the trainer to treat a dislodged toe nail, with Halep looking more comfortable from the resumption.
Davis crept through service games for 12-11 and 13-12, but her energy deserted her in the next as Halep broke through again, this time holding serve to wrap up victory in three hours and 47 minutes.
"I'm almost dead but it was nice that we could show good tennis," Halep said in her on-court interview.
"Definitely it was a very tough match, so long, and I never played the third set so long.
"I just feel that my muscles are gone. My ankle is... I don't know how it is because I don't feel it any more."
Halep v DavisGetty Images
Halep will meet either Australia’s Ash Barty or Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the fourth round.