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Australian Open, 5th Ld-Writethru,608

20 January 2018

Simona Halep saved three match points and served for victory four times in an extraordinary encounter against Lauren Davis before eventually booking her spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The 26-year-old said: "Definitely it was a very tough match".

The final set lasted two hours and 22 minutes while the 48 games equals the most for a women's match in Australian Open history, tying the 1996 quarter-final between Chanda Rubin Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, which Rubin won 6-4 2-6 16-14.

But at 13-13, Davis' legs finally began to let her down, and, when Halep served for the match a fourth time, there was no coming back.

For top-ranked Halep, already playing with an injured left ankle, equaling the mark for most games in a women's singles match with the 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 victory was probably not ideal in the first week.

"I'm nearly dead but it was nice that we could show good tennis", Halep said in the on-court interview, raising a laugh from the crowd. "So as awesome as that run was, the combination of being exhausted from that and having a wrist that still wasn't 100 percent ideal, I just needed to kind of shut it down, calm down, and then I was really excited to start the new season".

"I've never played a third set so long so I'm very happy to win it".

The American described had to call a medical timeout late in the third set - and she has explained the full extent of the toe-curling problem. I just kept believing that it's not over.

"We were both fighting our hearts out and every point was just super long". Her opponent, Davis, also apparently lost some toenails, as she said to her trainer at one point during the match.

"I showed myself what I'm capable of".

Halep nows plays either 18th seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia or Japan's Naomi Osaka in the last 16 after nearly four hours of incredible action - the longest match of the women's tournament so far.

Earlier, sixth seed Karolina Pliskova beat Czech Fed Cup teammate Lucie Safarova 7-6, 7-5 to move into the fourth round.

Australian Open, 5th Ld-Writethru,608