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Australian Open: Alize Cornet shocks Simona Halep to set up quarter-final clash with Danielle Collins

Alize Cornet survived stifling heat to outlast former world No 1 Simona Halep, while Danielle Collins rallied from a set down to beat 19th seed Elise Mertens and become the third American woman to reach the last eight; second seed Aryna Sabalenka beaten by Kaia Kanepi

Alize Cornet of France reacts after defeating Simona Halep of Romania in their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.(AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Image: Alize Cornet stunned Simona Halep in three gruelling sets to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open

Alize Cornet reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the first time with a thrilling win over Simona Halep in a gruelling contest on Rod Laver Arena.

Cornet, making her 63rd main draw appearance at a Grand Slam, survived stifling heat to seal a stunning 6-4 3-6 6-4 win over 2018 Australian Open runner-up Halep.

Cornet looked in control at a set and 3-1 up but former finalist Halep is one of tennis' grittiest competitors and she responded with a run of six games in a row.

Both women were clearly feeling the heat but that did not stop them engaging in lung-busting rallies and dragging each other all over the court.

Cornet made the breakthrough to lead 4-3 in the decider and had two match points on the Halep serve two games later only for the Romanian to hold.

Nerves were evident from both but Cornet, who had both thighs heavily taped, buried her face in a towel and broke into tears after converting her third match point.

"It was a battle with Simona today in this heat. After 30 minutes of the game, we were both dying on the court. We kept going for two and a half hours with all our heart," Cornet said on court.

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"Congrats to Simona because I know she struggled a lot and I admire this player so much. She's such a fighter and an example to me. To beat her today to go to my first quarter-final is a dream come true.

"I don't know what to say. It's just magic. It's never too late to try again."

The Frenchwoman will take on Danielle Collins for a spot in the semi-finals on Wednesday after the American won a battle of attrition in scorching heat to overhaul Elise Mertens 4-6 6-4 6-4 and book her second quarter-final in Melbourne.

In a gruelling clash of former semi-finalists, the American 27th seed snatched the win with a barrage of power hitting as Mertens served to stay in the match.

Belgian Mertens saved two match points, the second with a gutsy second serve, but then surrendered meekly on the third with a double-fault.

"I think I had my ups and downs during the match, mentally and physically," said Collins, who looked to be hampered by a back issue during the contest.

"Elise was really working me to the max. Some of the points were incredible, how many balls she was getting back. So I had to kind of put some pressure on her."

Australian Open - Women's quarter-finals

Ashleigh Barty (Aus) (1) vs Jessica Pegula (USA) (21)
Barbora Krejcikova (Cze) (4) vs Madison Keys (USA)
Danielle Collins (USA) (27) vs Alize Cornet (Fra)
Iga Swiatek (Pol) vs Kaia Kanepi (Est)

Seventh seed Iga Swiatek rallied from a set down to edge Romania's Sorana Cirstea 5-7 6-3 6-3 in a gruelling baseline duel to book her place in the last eight.

The 20-year-old Swiatek, who won the French Open title in 2020, came into her first meeting against the 38th-ranked Cirstea in dominant form having not lost a set this year at Melbourne Park.

Iga Swiatek
Image: Iga Swiatek is into the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time

But Cirstea, put the Pole under pressure for the first time in the tournament with some heavy hitting from the back of the court and Swiatek had to dig deep to find her way back into the contest and reach her first Australian Open quarter-final.

Swiatek sealed the encounter on her first match point with her 29th winner.

"For me, a week without crying is not a week. I cry when I lose; I cry when I win," an emotional Swiatek said on court.

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka's difficult Australian Open is over after she was beaten 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-7) by Kaia Kanepi.

Sabalenka has struggled with her serve all tournament and sent down 15 more double faults during the match.

She saved four match points in the 10th game of the decider, but Kanepi capitalised on some wild errors in the subsequent tie-break.

The 36-year-old Estonian initially thought she had won the match at 9-7, only to remember that 10 points are needed to win a final-set tie-break.

"Actually I thought I was going to lose it after the match points I had on my serve," Kanepi said afterwards. "It was really difficult to come back. I don't know how I managed to do it."

It will be Kanepi's first Australian Open quarter-final and her opponent is Swiatek, someone she has never faced before on Tour.

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