The sixth time's the charm. In her 63rd Grand Slam appearance, Alizé Cornet finally reached a major quarterfinal.
For the fourth time in five career meetings, Cornet defeated Simona Halep 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to achieve the long-awaited feat inside Rod Laver Arena, breaking a winless streak in fourth-round showings at majors that dates back more than a decade.
At 19, the Frenchwoman was a point away from the quarterfinals in Melbourne 13 years ago before eventually losing to Dinara Safina, the first of five fourth-round appearances Cornet made at majors before this fortnight.
Heartbreak wouldn't come twice. Despite failing to hold a set and a break lead, at one point losing 16 straight points, Cornet won three of the last four games.
"It was definitely very hard conditions to play," Cornet said. "I could see that Simona was also struggling, like me. We were both fighters on the court out there, and really giving everything we had, leaving it all on the court.
"It was such a drama, because I was one set one break up and I don't know how many games I lost in a row and finally came back in the third. I was so tired I couldn't think anymore, which was a good thing I think at the end, because it just made me keep playing, keep trying, and at the end I made my first quarterfinals."
Anything you can do: Cornet frustrated Halep over the course of 2 hours and 33 minutes with her ability to stay in points and draw out extended rallies in the Melbourne afternoon heat. As Halep appeared to wilt physically, the No.61 Cornet seemed well on her way to an easier victory. Cornet broke five times to take a 6-3, 3-1 lead and held a point on serve to stretch the margin to 4-1.
Her forehand faltered and Halep got a second wind. Cornet won just one more point from there and lost 16 straight as Halep won the last five games.
In the third, breaks of serve were at a premium. Cornet swatted the first break point either woman faced in the set away to hold for 3-3, and got the decisive break in the next game after Halep led 30-0.
Other milestones: By reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Cornet also set a new record for most majors played before reaching one. Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand held the prior record, achieving the feat in her 45th at Wimbledon in 2008. Cornet is also the first first Frenchwoman to reach an Australian Open quarterfinal since 2009.
Cornet picked up her 48th career win against Top 20 players, seven of which have come at majors. She's now won her last four against Top 20 players in Slams, including an upset of No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round.
Cornet on facing Collins: "That's the first time we play with Danielle Collins," Cornet said. "Well, that could be somewhat drama, this match for sure. I see how she is on the court. She's like a lion. She impresses me a little bit because she's so intense. I'm intense too but I think she's next-level intense.
"She's hitting so hard. This is going to be a good match. I'm really happy to play against this kind of player."
Collins edges Mertens to reach second Australian Open quarterfinal
Only one of two former Australian Open semifinalists could return to the last eight in 2022, and in a shade under three hours, Danielle Collins showed enough mettle to defeat Elise Mertens and secure a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 fourth-round victory.
In sweltering conditions inside Rod Laver Arena, it was Collins' aggression and boldness in crucial moments that helped her overcome both Mertens and her own physical struggles. After losing six of seven games to lose the first set from 3-0 up, Collins broke Mertens' serve six more times across the second and third sets.
Three of her 45 winners in the match helped earn Collins the love break that sent the match to a decider, and a backhand winner on the penultimate point set her up for the 2-hour, 51-minute victory.
Collins rides the wave to the win: "I think to do well in these events, you kind of have to ride out the storm," Collins said. "I think you have moments where you're playing some of your best tennis. Sometimes you lose your rhythm. Sometimes you're dealing with some little pestering aches and pains. Sometimes you're dealing with physical conditions, with weather. There's so many different elements.
"I try to just, try to ride it out as much as possible. I love watching professional surfing, and I really admire what they do, how they get up on the board, how they deal with all the elements, so I use that as an analogy in my head a lot."
Loving it Down Under: Collins has played 12 events in her career in Australia and reached the quarterfinals or better seven times. She's done so the hard way at Melbourne Park this year, coming from a set down in each of her last two matches to join compatriots Madison Keys and Jessica Pegula in the last eight.
Collins on facing Cornet: "I think she's an incredible player and person for our sport. I think her hard work and tenacity really comes out every time she plays and steps on the court.
"She's always someone that's very fun to watch, someone that's very pleasant to see on a day-to-day basis and passing in the locker room. I appreciate her a lot."