A dramatic encounter concluded action on the third day of action at the Australian Open, with Elise Mertens prevailing in straight sets over 23rd seed and home favorite Daria Gavrilova, in a match that finished shortly before two in the morning local time.
The match did not start until nearly midnight following a hectic day on the Rod Laver Arena, and it was Gavrilova who started incredibly brightly, though the Australian blew a 5-0 lead and multiple set points as Mertens took the opening. The Belgian, after a rocky start, took control in the second set, and eventually claimed a 7-5, 6-3 victory in an hour and 51 minutes.
Today’s victory is undoubtedly a big win for the Belgian, especially considering she missed out on playing last year due to her run to the title in Hobart. Mertens won the title in Hobart once again this year and will have a lot of confidence heading into her third round clash against Alize Cornet, who knocked out in-form 12th seed Julia Goerges today.
Mertens survives poor start to get past frustrated Gavrilova
There was a lot of interesting in this encounter heading in, with the two having played at the Hopman Cup just two weeks ago and having also played a tight match at the French Open last year, and it certainly proved to be an intriguing, if dramatic, affair.
The opening few games were fairly tight, though it was the Australian who was playing much better on the bigger points, and she was regularly able to take advantage of some shaky play by Mertens as she took a 5-0 lead in just 27 minutes. Mertens was evidently struggling, though managed to save four set points and then began to fight back. Gavrilova held eight set points overall, though was getting frustrated and miraculously the Belgian evened up proceedings. Mertens broke once again at 5-5 before serving out the set to finish off a remarkable comeback.
After losing the first set in such dramatic and disappointing fashion, Gavrilova crucially started the second set with an important service hold. However, Mertens was now looking a much better player than the one that started the match, and her pressure eventually paid off as she broke for a 3-2 lead. The 23rd seed was now crumbling dramatically, with an argument with umpire Aurelie Tourte perhaps leading to her being broken for the second time in the set. She showed some fight as she broke Mertens when the Belgian was serving for the match, but it proved to be fruitless as Mertens broke once again to reach the third round.