MELBOURNE -- No.57 Anna Blinkova engineered the upset of the tournament so far at the Australian Open after defeating last year's runner-up Elena Rybakina 6-4, 4-6, 7-6[20] in the second round.

Blinkova saved six match points in the longest singles match-tiebreak in Grand Slam history before converting on her 10th match point to advance to the third round of Melbourne for the first time. The 42-point match-tiebreak supplanted the 38-point tiebreaks played by Lesia Tsurenko and Ana Bogdan last summer at Wimbledon and by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Roddick 20-18 at the 2007 Australian Open. 

"This day I will remember for the rest of my life," Blinkova said. "Especially on this court, with this crowd. I will never forget it. It’s the best day of my life so far."

The 2-hour, 46-minute victory is Blinkova's career best by ranking and second Top 5 win in the past 12 months. Both came at the Grand Slams, after Blinkova defeated Caroline Garcia in three sets at Roland Garros last spring.

"When I played at the French Open against Caroline, the crowd was mostly against me, obviously," Blinkova said. "Today they were cheering me up so much. They were incredible. I loved it. My dream came true to play on Rod Laver, full of spectators. The energy was crazy."

Match notes: Rybakina was tapped as a tournament favorite going into the Australian Open. A Wimbledon champion in 2022, Rybakina began her 2024 season with a dominant run to the title in Brisbane. She dropped only three games to World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in the final. 

In contrast, Blinkova came to Melbourne searching for her first win of the season. She had gone 0-2 to start her year. But the 25-year-old had reason to believe she could play the role of spoiler on Thursday night. Blinkova had won her only pro meeting against Rybakina, a 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 win at an ITF 100K in 2017. She was also 1-0 against Rybakina at the junior level.

Anatomy of an upset: On a cool night in Melbourne, Blinkova proved the more powerful and accurate baseline hitter through the first set. An outstanding return game from Blinkova earned her the only break of the opening set at 2-1. Blinkova protected her lead through the 35-minute opening set, one in which she never faced a break point. 

But as the match progressed, Rybakina slowly found her range. The World No.3 fell behind a break at 2-1 in the second set but broke back immediately as Blinkova's error count began to rise. Rybakina's return pressure finally earned her a first break point of the match at 5-4, and she converted with a clean forehand winner to take the second set.

Rybakina found herself down a break three times in the final set, but each time she found a way back to force the match-tiebreak. Blinkova served for the win twice and had two match points at 6-5, but Rybakina struck an outstanding backhand winner to wipe away the first and Blinkova put a backhand into the net on the second.

"When I had opportunities, when I had match points, I was rushing," Blinkova said. "My hand was shaking. I tried to be aggressive, but I was making a lot of mistakes."

Tiebreak tug-o-war: After 2 hours and 14 minutes, the match headed to a 10-point tiebreak. In a riveting see-saw affair, Rybakina saved seven more match points in the tiebreak, which lasted over 30 minutes alone. The World No.3 found herself within a point of the win six times but could not get over the line. 

"I had negative thoughts coming to my head, especially when I could not convert my match points and I was match point down on the return," Blinkova said. "I had a lot of thoughts, what if she serves well, what if she hits big first serve, it's going to be over.

"I tried to push these thoughts away. I was telling myself to cut the trajectory, accelerate the hand on the return. I was telling myself to stay solid all the time, just to keep running everywhere and putting all the balls in the court."

Finally, at 20-all, Blinkova made her move by winning a tricky 12-point rally that ended with a deep overhead winner. She converted her final match point after Rybakina missed a backhand.

Watch the full 42-point tiebreak below:

Next up: Blinkova will face 26th-seeded Italian Jasmine Paolini in the third round. The winner will advance to her first Grand Slam Round of 16.

Ostapenko, Azarenka set third-round rematch

In the first week of the 2024 season, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka played a barnburner quarterfinal in Brisbane, edged 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 by Azarenka. Thirteen days later, the pair set an immediate rematch in the third round of the Australian Open after winning seesaw three-setters.

No.11 seed Ostapenko ousted a second straight Australian from their home major, defeating Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 in 1 hour and 42 minutes. The Latvian roared through a 19-minute first set in which she conceded only seven points and committed three unforced errors, but had to battle to find that form again in time for the decider.

"Sometimes when the first set goes too easy, when you play too well, it's kind of the hardest part of the game," Ostapenko said afterwards with a laugh.

No.18 seed and two-time champion Azarenka also had to overcome strong opposition in the second set to move past Clara Tauson 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in 2 hours and 15 minutes.