MELBOURNE, Jan 20: World number one Simona Halep saved three match points to survive a titanic struggle and make the last 16 at the Australian Open today where she joined Karolina Pliskova and Dominic Thiem.
With the temperatures a manageable 26 Celsius (79 Farenheit) at Melbourne Park after two days of oven-like conditions, the Romanian looked out for the count against American Lauren Davis.
But she finally got over the line 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 in a gruelling 3hr 44min on Rod Laver Arena to make the fourth round in a contest that took its toll.
�I�m almost dead,� the tenacious Romanian said after the incredible battle, in which Davis lost a toenail and Halep served for the match four times.
�The feeling in my muscles is gone and I don�t feel my ankle anymore,� she added.
Davis is ranked just 76 in the world and was knocked out in the first round of all four Grand Slams last year, but you would never have known it.
Sixth seed Pliskova also had a tough test, beating fellow Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.
In contrast, US Open finalist Madison Keys was in fine touch as she benefits from the guidance of former great Lindsay Davenport.
Flying under the radar, the 17th seed has surrendered just 16 games on her way to the fourth round after beating Romania�s Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-4.
Kerber beats Sharapova: Angelique Kerber roared out of the blocks and ruthlessly crushed Maria Sharapova in a battle of former champions.
The 2016 winner sped into a 4-1 first set lead with a display of effervescent hitting in their hotly-anticipated third-round encounter.
Sharapova, the Melbourne Park champion here 10 years ago, was sent packing in just 64 minutes as a resurgent 21st seed dismantled her 6-1, 6-3. � AFP