Tennis

Simona Halep, Novak Djokovic survive scares at Australian Open

Second seed Simona Halep said her fighting spirit helped stave off an early Australian Open exit yesterday after being pushed to the brink by big-hitting local Ajla Tomljanovic.

The two-time Grand Slam winner survived a major scare by winning five third-set games in a row to prevail against the 72nd-ranked 27-year-old 4-6, 6-4,7-5 in 2hr 34min.

Halep, 29, who lost just three games to Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera in the first round, dug deep to rally from 5-2 down in the third.`

"I think I got relaxed a little bit more," she said of being one game away from elimination.

"I fought till the end. I never gave up during the match, and that's why maybe I could win in the end.

"I'm really happy and proud of what I did today on court."

Meanwhile, men's top seed and eight-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic admitted he was "pushed to the limit" by dangerous 64-ranked American Frances Tiafoe.

The Serb, 33, looked in control after taking the first set, but the lightning-quick Tiafoe, 23, refused to go quietly.

Djokovic bounced back to take a close second set before digging deep to emerge a 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 winner.

Said Djokovic: "I was impressed with the way he was competing.

"He served very well, he fought hard...

"He pushed me to the very limit." - AFP

Tennis