Halep pulls off great escape to beat Tomljanovic

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Simona Halep produced a stunning recovery to keep her hopes of a first Australian Open title alive

Second seed Simona Halep produced her own version of the great escape as she recovered from 5-2 down in the final set to beat home favourite Alja Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in an electric second-round encounter at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The world No 2 was two points from defeat against the world No 72 when she served at 2-5, 15-30 in front of an enthralled crowd on Margaret Court Arena but Tomljanovic blinked and the Romanian roared back for victory.

“I was expecting a tough match because I know she is very strong, but it was harder than I expected,” Halep said. “I’m really happy I can smile now.”

Halep was all at sea as Tomljanovic overpowered her from the baseline with a series of brutal groundstrokes, taking the first set. Halep battled hard to win the second but soon found herself behind in the third as she trailed 5-2, Tomljanovic sticking to her game-plan, attacking the Halep serve and going for broke.

But two-time Grand Slam champion Halep is made of strong stuff and she found a way to get back into the match, holding for 3-5, breaking in the following game and eventually winning five straight games to take her place in the third round.

Halep, who will meet No 32 seed Veronika Kudermetova in the third round, admitted she had needed to dig deep, mentally.

“I was not that positive when I was talking to myself at the back of the court,” Halep said. “I was just blaming myself that I am not strong enough to play against her. But in the end, mentally I was a bit stronger, I had the desire to win the match and I didn’t want to give up.”

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