MELBOURNE, Australia - Another match, another improbable comeback. After Caroline Wozniacki escaped earlier in the day on Rod Laver Arena, Belgian Elise Mertens capped Wednesday's play in Melbourne with one of her own.
The two players walked on court close to midnight following a marathon five-set victory for men's No.3 seed Grigor Dimitrov, and Mertens would've been forgiven for a sluggish start in which she lost the first five games of the match.
Nonetheless, the Belgian saved a total of eight set points in the first set - beginning with four on her serve in the sixth game as she saved the bagel.
A fifth came in Gavrilova's second effort to serve out the set at 5-3, before Mertens finally drew level in dramatic fashion, in which she dug out of 0-40 to win her fifth game in a row.
Over the first two weeks of 2018, the Belgian has been rolling: she boasts an undefeated record in official matches after winning both the singles and doubles titles at the Hobart International last week.
"She was playing great. All credits to her. I wasn't really feeling -- I didn't really have a good feeling at the beginning. Maybe a bit slow because I had to wait so long," Mertens said after the match.
"I'm happy that I kept on fighting, because you never know in tennis. I'm really happy about the level I played. I have also a lot of matches in my legs, but mentally I was still there."
The Belgian missed out on competing in the qualifying draw in Melbourne a year ago due to her efforts in Hobart, where she won her first career title out of qualifying while outside the Top 100.
Twelve months later, Mertens in one of the fastest-rising players on tour, having improved her ranking by 91 places since this time in 2017.
"I think my level was pretty good in the first set. I still can't believe that it got away from me. It just happened, and it happened quickly," Gavrilova said.
"I didn't think I changed anything or I wasn't aggressive enough. I think she just played pretty good. I've seen it before, girls losing or guys losing from being up 5-Love, ridiculous like I was. It's a new experience [for me]."
Metens also made a late push to secure the match in straight sets, winning four of the last five games from 2-2 in the second set.
Though the Belgian was unable to serve out the match on her first opportunity with a 5-2 lead, she secure victory in one hour, 51 minutes behind her sixth break of serve.
"[My serve] let me down, as well. I definitely need to get my second serve better," said Gavrilova, who served 10 double faults in the match. "Usually my service percentage, for me to win matches, I need to have it pretty high as well. So I'm definitely going to work on that."
Mertens advances to face Alizé Cornet, who cooled off the red-hot run of Julia Goerges, snapping the German's winning streak, 6-4, 6-3.
"[There are] special feelings for the first time in the third round, especially here, the first time I'm in the main [draw]," Mertens said. "Of course, I played in the French [Open] third round. It's still the second time I'm playing third round, so it's special for me.
"[Cornet] is a very experiences player. I'll still have a day to recover and see what I can do after. I love to compete, love to fight."