Unquestionably, the story of the first two rounds of the Australian Open has been 15-year old Marta Kostyuk. The Ukranian continued her dream run through the draw, knocking out Aussie wild card Olivia Rogowska in the second round 6-3, 7-5.
Kostyuk, the junior girls' champion in Melbourne a year ago, will face fourth seed Elina Svitolina for a place in the Round of 16 on Thursday. She is 11-0 lifetime at the tournament, winning six matches to take the girls' crown, three more in qualifying and two in the main draw.
Quick start puts Kostyuk on top
The opening game of the match featured what would be a theme of the match: break points, Kostyuk saving both to hold. She used that momentum to hold a 15-40 lead on Rogowska's first service game, the break taken with a fine forehand down the line.
It seemed momentum was short-lived as the Aussie wild card broke back only to fall into a 0-40 hole and a backhand long over the baseline re-affirmed Kostyuk's lead at 3-1. Rogowska came to life again, breaking in the seventh game with help from the Ukranian, a forehand dumped into the net.
Another struggle on serve ensued for the Aussie and she was duly broken, Kostyuk's off forehand drawing an error. Serving for the set, the 15-year old survived a marathon game, sealing the set with a strong serve and forehand error for Rogowska.
15-year old rallies late to continue historic run in Melbourne
Continuing to apply the pressure, it was the Ukranian who struck first in the second set, her powerful backhand drawing a weak reply and putting her firmly in control, up a set and bow a break. After fighting off a break point, Kostyuk took a 3-1 lead, nearing the finish line.
Rogowska showed some grit when she repelled the 15-year old's advances for a second break, swatting away two break points in the fifth game. That seemed to lift her and she was back on level terms when Kostyuk's forehand went wide.
A hold brought the Ukranian to her first crunch point of the set, needing to hold to avoid a decider. After battling through a pair of deuces, she was gifted the deciding break on an untimely double fault by the Aussie.
Serving for the match, Kostyuk got to 40-15 and after one match point was bypassed, she took the second on a backhand error from Rogowska.
Dropping to her knees, hands covering her eyes, filled with tears, the special young Ukrainian continues her historic run in Melbourne.
It's not a stretch to say that Kostyuk's story is the most improbable yet most breathtaking we've seen in tennis in a long time. Her talent is clear and her future is brilliant. Against Svitolina, she has no pressure on her and will enjoy the moment regardless of the outcome.
Rogowska is your classic ITF player. Ranked 186th, she likely would not have gotten into the main draw had she not received a wild card. Unable to take advantage of what may be her only chance to reach the third round of a major, the Aussie will be bitterly disappointed as she heads back to the ITF Tour.