Update: Elise Mertens makes Australian Open quarter-finals

Summary

Flemish tennis player Elise Mertens continues to charge through the Australian Open, with her best performance ever in a Grand Slam tournament

Last Belgian standing

Elise Mertens of Limburg has made it to the quarter finals of the Australian Open. She had already put in her best performance ever in her Grand Slam career when she made the final 16 last week.

Mertens beat Croatian player Petra Martic in two sets on Sunday 7-6, 7-5. It was the first time the two had ever faced off.

The 22-year-old from Limburg now faces much tougher competition when she plays Elina Svitolina tomorrow in the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. The Ukrainian player is seeded number four in the WTA.

Mertens’ performance thus far ensures her a spot in the WTA’s top 25, her highest ranking ever. She had already gone into the Open as Belgium’s highest-ranking female player at WTA 37.

“This is incredible; I have no words for this,” she said following yesterday’s match. “It was really tough. I started strong, but her serve suddenly got much more powerful. And I think I was more nervous in this match than against Cornet because there’s a big difference between the final 16 and the quarter-finals. I am so happy to be in the quarter-finals. Everything after this is a bonus.”

Mertens and Svitolina do battle at 3.00 Belgian time on Tuesday.

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Elise Mertens of Limburg is the final Belgian player remaining in the Australian Open, having made it to the final 16 for the first time in her Grand Slam career. The other four Belgians were out in the second round.

Mertens’ 7-5, 6-4 win over French player Alizé Cornet in the third round  will also put the 22-year-old in the WTA’s top 30 for the first time. She’s currently at 37.

The searing 40-degree heat in Melbourne made the two-hour match especially challenging. Cornet struggled for breath as she raced to keep up with the in-form Mertens (pictured), and her vitals had to monitored by a court doctor.

Eventually Cornet, ranked 42, had to take a medical timeout in the second set, during which she was treated with ice towels and ice packs. She managed to fight back from 5-2 down to 5-4, but was eventually defeated after five deuces.

“Credit to her for keeping it up,” said Mertens following the match. “It’s hot. I think this is one of the toughest conditions I’ve ever had.”

Mertens is in a good position to make it to the quarter-finals, facing 81st seeded Petra Martic in the final 16 on Sunday (1.00 Belgian time). “I can hardly believe it,” she said. “A year ago, I wasn’t even in the top 100.”

Photo: Patrick Hamilton/BELGA