BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain - The latest great escape of the 2019 season belongs to Petra Martic.
The World No.25 rallied from a set and a double break down, and saved five match points, to defeat Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals of the Nature Valley Classic, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-1.
The Latvian, who had won back-to-back matches just once this season before this week and arrived in Birmingham with an 8-15 record on the year, but was one point away from her first semifinal in nearly a year a total of five times.
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"I still can't believe that I won this match. 45 minutes ago I was saving match points from one to another, so it's really incredible that I managed to pull this match through," Martic said.
"She was making so many winners, in the beginning of the first and the second set which put me in trouble. The situation really didn't look good. I was trying to break her rhythm, because that's the only way.
"If she's in her zone, I mean, she wins Roland Garros with the way she plays. I was hoping for the best, and I managed it in the end."
Looking to reach her first semifinal since Wimbledon last July, Ostapenko built big leads in both the first and second sets, as she broke Martic twice en route to building identical 4-0 advantages.
Though she escaped with the first in a tiebreak despite losing five consecutive games and failing to serve it out at 6-5, she proved unable to close out the World No.25 in the second set.
The former French Open champion also had a 5-2 lead in the second set, but lost five straight games from that point - including allowing Martic to hold from 0-40 down in a 10th game where she held all five of her match points.
"It looked bad, it was 0-40 and then two more match points, but still it was on my serve," Martic said. "I was hoping that she wasn't going to hit some big return, like she can often. I was a bit lucky in those situations, but sometimes you need it."
Buoyed by second life, the Croatian won six straight games to close out the match after the Latvian held to begin the decider, to book her spot in her third semifinal of the season.
"I saw in the third set that she got discouraged by not finishing the match in two sets, and I tried to stay as tough as I could out there. That was the first moment I felt like I had a chance out there," Martic said.
"Even though she won Roland Garros, I think this surface suits her best because she likes those low balls. After I won the second set, I could feel the difference in her. More mistakes came, and you kind of gain confidence from this."
Plagued by 20 double faults in the match, Ostapenko lost serve nine times overall, as Martic was afforded plenty of chances with 18 break points.
The Latvian racked up 70 unforced errors in total, despite more than tripling Martic's winner count with a total of 42.
"I was trying to get as many first serves in as possible...only in the third set, I managed to find rhythm. I had to use slice, because I knew if I gave her pace, she would just kill me and I'd be running all over," Martic said.
"When you see the opponent is kind of struggling...I just tried to keep pressure, and not just be hoping out there for her to be making mistakes. I'm really happy that she didn't manage to find it in the end."