MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – After wasting three chances to serve it out, then saving three match points, Simona Halep finally fended off American Lauren Davis in a third-round win that took 3 hours, 45 minutes and equaled a record at the Australian Open.
For top-ranked Halep, already playing with an injured left ankle, the 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 victory on Saturday was a testament to her renewed self-belief.
The third set took 2:22 and momentum swung, with 11 service breaks and two medical timeouts — for Davis to get treatment for toes on both feet — before Halep converted on her first match point.
Halep had chances to serve for the match in the 9th, 11th and 15th games of the third set but was broken each time by the No. 76-ranked Davis, who then blew three match points from 0-40 on Halep’s serve in the 22nd game.
“Definitely was a very tough match, so long,” said Halep, who has twice reached the final at the French Open but never won a Grand Slam singles title. “I never played the third set so long, so I’m really happy I could stay and win it. I’m almost dead.”
It equaled the longest women’s singles match at the Australian Open in terms of games played: Chanda Rubin’s win over Arantxa Shanchez Vicario in 1996 was also 48 games. In terms of duration, it was almost an hour shorter than the record 4:44 that Francesca Schiavone needed to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2011.
“I just feel that my muscles are gone,” said Halep, who badly twisted her left ankle in the first round. “My ankle is, I don’t know how it is because I don’t feel it anymore! But … it was nice to win this match.”