Sports Desk, Jan 24 (EFE).- Kaia Kanepi on Monday rallied from a set down to upset second-seed Aryna Sabalenka to secure her maiden Australian Open quarterfinal appearance.
The Estonian needed two hours and 19 minutes to overcome a late, fierce resistance from the Belarusian for a 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 victory.
The world No. 1 barely clinched the first set on the strength of a break in the 12th game.
Kanepi, ranked 115, stormed into a 4-0 second set lead, including an over eight-minute third game, enough cushion to level the match a few games later.
The 36-year-old seemed to be on her way for an easier win after earning a 2-0 lead in the decider, but the Belarusian was not ready to give up just yet.
Sabalenka broke back to adjust the score to 4-4 only to lose her following game, but she leveled again for 5-5, saving a match point in the process.
Each player delivered on their subsequent delivery forcing a tiebreak that Kanepi won, to extend her best Australian Open run, hoping for her maiden Grand Slam semifinal appearance.
But first, Kanepi will have to defeat Iga Swiatek, who burst into tears after defeating Romanian Sorana Cîrstea for her maiden Australian Open quarterfinals appearance.
The 2020 French Open champion dropped a set for the first time in Melbourne this year, but managed to win 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
“I think it started with being a little bit off rhythm. And then after the first set, I was a little bit shaking,” she said.
“I feel like during this whole match my stress level was higher than the previous ones. That’s why at the end all these emotions came up,” she added.
Alize Cornet earned a hard-fought victory over Romanian Simona Halep to secure her first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance, a couple of days after turning 32.
The Frenchwoman defeated Halep 6-4 3-6 6-3, claiming her second win over a former world No.1 in Melbourne this year, having knocked out Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round.
“To beat her today to go to my first quarterfinal is just a dream come true. I don’t know what to say, it’s just magic,” she said after the match that lasted for two hours and 33 minutes.
There was no magic, however, in her fourth win over Halep in their fifth clash, as she showed resilience against a player known for her defensive skills.
Cornet dropped her serve once but earned two breaks, to take a one-set lead and had the chance to clinch the match earlier, but she squandered a break point for a 4-1 second-set advantage.
However, she lost five consecutive games as the two-time Grand Slam champions leveled the match at one set apiece.
A service break in the seventh game of the decider proved to be decisive as the Frenchwoman set a quarterfinal clash against US’ Danielle Collins.
Collins, who rallied from a set down to defeat Belgian Elise Mertens, aims to equal her best Grand Slam run when she reached the 2019 Australian Open semis. EFE