STRASBOURG, France - No.7 seed Daria Gavrilova set up an all-Australian battle with Ashleigh Barty in the last eight of the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Wednesday, after rallying past Russian Elizaveta Kulichkova in over two hours, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4.
"Today was a really tough match and I'm really happy that I managed to have this huge comeback," Gavrilova said. "She's a very tough competitor, I think her ranking is not where her game is; I think she's going to improve this season, and hopefully get to the top 100.
"I'm happy with the way I'm playing - I'm still in good form from Rome and I hope I can keep going."
The Australian trailed by two breaks in the decider at 1-4, but ran off the last four games of the match and sealed the second round win on her fourth match point as Kulichkova double faulted.
The ending did not do justice to the match, as both players ended well in the positives on the stat sheet; Gavrilova hit 37 winners to a tidy 10 unforced errors, while Kulichkova matched her nearly every step of the way, with a ratio of 33-19.
Gavrilova broke in Kulichkova's opening service game of the match and stayed in front of her Russian opponent in the first set, never facing a break point and serving out the first set in just over half an hour - finishing in style with an ace.
Kulichkova made a bright start to the second set, displaying nimble footwork and shot-making to hold serve on the first game, and then immediately consolidated that by breaking the Australian.
The 21-year-old showed glimpses of the blistering baseline tennis that took her to the third round of the Australian Open in her debut and into the world's top 100 as a teenager in 2016, as she built a 5-1 lead and looked to send the match to a decider.
Gavrilova would not go quietly, however, as she never allowed the World No.192 to reach set point and claimed four straight games to tie the set, eventually sending it to a tiebreak with a tough hold.
Momentum was at a premium in the tiebreak, and the Australian looked to finish the match in straight sets as she nabbed the first mini-break to lead 3-1, only to see Kulichkova hit back to win four points in a row. After tying proceedings at 5-5, Gavrilova surrendered her second service point and the qualifier converted on her first opportunity to send the match with another blistering forehand.
Kulichkova pounced on a 0-40 opportunity to begin the final set for a break in the first game, and added another in the fifth to build her 4-1 lead - dropping just two points on serve in the interim.
It was then that Gavrilova began to stage another comeback, earning one break back in the sixth game and saving a trio of opportunities on her serve that would've let Kulichkova serve for the match. Though the Russian nearly dug out of 0-40 on her own serve in the eighth game, Gavrilova leveled on her third break point, and her momentum carried her all the way to the finish line after she took her first lead of the set at 5-4.
"I guess I've made a few comebacks," Gavrilova said. "It definitely gives you more confidence, and you feel like you're freer to play the big points, and you're more clutch on big points."
Gavrilova will face compatriot Barty in the semifinals, after the latter surrendered just three games in defeating Camila Giorgi, 6-3, 6-0 earlier on Wednesday.
The duo joins Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals for a total of three Australians in the last eight, and Gavrilova thinks she might've cracked the case as to why.
"We've been going to the same restuarants for dinner, and we're eating the same food, so that could be why!"