Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic puts up epic fight against world number two Simona Halep | Ralph Lauren

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Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic threatened to send shockwaves through an already upset-filled Australian Open, but failed to serve out a boilover win over world No.2 Simona Halep.

Tomljanovic led 5-2 in the third and deciding set, and served for a third-round berth at 5-3, but was broken twice in a row as Halep stormed home for a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory.

Tomljanovic had a wobbly start, with double faults and unforced errors seeing her broken in the opening game of the match, but she broke Halep’s serve three times in the first set with some brilliant shotmaking.

After coughing up a 4-2 lead, Halep tried to keep the set alive at 4-5.

But in a mammoth game lasting eight deuces and over 10 minutes, Tomljanovic broke the world No. 2 for the third time to seal the set.

Halep saved a first break and set point in a drawn out, high-quality rally before Tomljanovic earned another.

Halep responded with an ace. Tomljanovic finally overcame the opponent on her third attempt as Halep launched a shot down the line into the net.

The Australian struggled to maintain her lofty level and was immediately broken in the opening game of the second set, but broke back (again at the third break point attempt) to level the scores after Halep sent another down-the-line forehand wayward.

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic.
Camera IconRomania’s Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. Credit: Rick Rycroft/AP

The pair traded breaks once again, with Tomjlanovic’s exceptional returning gifting her numerous opportunities. Halep was finding her rhythm – and her devastatingly powerful forehand – and began to push the Australian back from the baseline during rallies.

Serving at 3-3, Tomljanovic fell behind quickly with a pair of errors handing Halep two break points.

A deep Tomljanovic shot JUST clipped the baseline – Halep could hardly believe it, and stared in disbelief at the ball mark after losing the point – before the Aussie clipped the net on the next rally, the ball bouncing favourably for Halep to easily put away the winner and seal the break.

The pair held their service games for the remainder of the set as a much-improved Halep saw off the Australian’s challenge and levelled the match at one set apiece, the second set finishing 6-4.

The breaks of serve continued in the third and deciding set with Tomljanovic dashing out to a 2-0 lead, before Halep immediately broke back.

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But after the point of the match – a marathon rally which Tomljanovic won with a forehand down the line – to hold serve at 3-2, the Aussie then broke again for a stunning 4-2 lead.

A brave drop shot enabled Tomljanovic to hold for 5-2, but then Halep rose to the occasion, holding her own serve and then breaking Tomljanovic to 15, putting it at 5-4.

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Serving to stay in the tournament, Halep double-faulted for 15-30 but won the next three points for 5-5.

In the next game, a stunning backhand down the line after a marathon rally saved one break point for Tomljanovic while a Halep error saved another.

On the fourth opportunity Halep broke for 6-5 and then served out the match.

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