BIRMINGHAM, England - Just call her the comeback queen.
For the second time this week, Lucie Safarova was down, but not out, as she saved match points to defeat No.9 seed Daria Gavrilova, 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6(5), and reach the semifinals at the Aegon Classic.
Safarova saved two match points in her opening round victory against No.3 seed Dominika Cibulkova, and not only saved saved three more late in the deciding set, but rallied to win the last four points of the tiebreak and steal the three hour, three-minute victory.
"I don't know what to say, it was such an amazing fight between the both of us and I'm so happy I won!" Safarova said after the match. "She was playing well, down the lines from her forehand side...I'm really happy with my game that I stayed positive and fought until the end. I had a few opportunities, but not really a real chance because she was serving well. I just believed that I could pull it out and win it.
"It seems like I know how to play in match-point situations! I don't enjoy going from match point down, but it's been just happening lately. I was very pleased after my [second round] match against [Naomi] Osaka that it was an hour and 10 minutes."
A 70-minute opener set the tone for the rest of the match, as it was Gavrilova who ground out to a one-set lead. A pivotal 12th game helped decide the set in the Australian's favor, as she survived a service game of over 16 minutes that featured nine deuces and saw her save five set points.
Possibly feeling a letdown from the opportunities missed, Safarova was sluggish early on in the tiebreak, as she misfired off the ground to conclude many of the first six points, and Gavrilova took a 6-0 lead at the change of ends.
However, the theme of the match - a Safarova comeback - was set early, as she saved four set points, but was unable to completely overcome Gavrilova's advantage.
However, the second set started in Safarova's favor, as she broke the Gavrilova serve in the first game and never trailed en route to leveling the match at one set apiece.
A dominant first four games for the Czech, where she lost just four points, saw her take command, and though Gavrilova got one break back at love in the eighth game, Safarova pounced for her third break of the set to send the match to a decider - taking advantage of some untimely double faults from the Australian.
The first five games of the decider went with serve, but it was Gavrilova who made the first move in the final set after saving a break point in the sixth game. She converted on her first break point opportunity of the set to claim her first lead, and moved one game away from the win by navigating to another hold.
However, that's when the Safarova comeback began. First up, the lefty saved two match points on her own serve in the ninth game - and was fortunate to not face a third as Gavrilova missed a putaway at the net - en route to a hold of serve, and later saved the third for good measure on the Australian's serve before breaking back to 5-5.
Safarova's momentum carried her to another hold, putting her one game away from victory, but Gavrilova responded with an emphatic love hold of her own - with an ace - to send the match into a final set tiebreak as it approached its fourth hour.
The Australian held a mini-break advantage on three occasions in the tiebreak, with the last coming at 5-3, but fell prey to some brilliant tennis at the best times from Safarova - which included the point of the match in the second point of the tiebreak.
The Czech's momentum continued from 3-5 down, and she took her first lead of the tiebreak at 6-5 - setting up her first match point of the marathon day - and fired down a big serve to secure her spot in the final four and her second Houdini act of the week.
Safarova took a medical timeout in the first set, and spent the rest of the match with her right leg heavily taped. She and partner Barbora Strycova, the top seeds, withdrew from their doubles quarterfinal match against Sania Mirza and CoCo Vandeweghe later on Friday afternoon.
"I strained it a little bit, but I will get a good treatment," Safarova said of the injury. "I pulled out of doubles, and I will get a good treatment and I hope I will be ready for tomorrow."