Elise Mertens reaches semifinals on debut at Australian Open

Elize Mertens of Belgium celebrates winning against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. (Reuters)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Elise Mertens reaches semifinals on debut at Australian Open

MELBOURNE: A year after opting out of qualifying for the Australian Open, Elise Mertens has reached the semifinals in her debut at the season-opening major.
Mertens upset fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0 on Tuesday to extend her winning streak to 10 matches and be the first woman through to the semifinals at Melbourne Park. She's the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters in 2012 to reach the semifinals in Australia.
She trains at Clijsters' academy and knew the four-time major winner was watching on TV.
"Kim, thanks for watching, I knew you sent me a message before the match — don't be too stressy," Mertens said. "I'm trying to be in your footsteps this week."
The No. 37-ranked Mertens successfully defended her Hobart International title — she decided last year to target that title instead of enter Open qualifying — two weeks ago, and has now won five matches at Melbourne Park.
Mertens dominated against Svitolina, who also entered her first quarterfinal in Australia on a nine-match winning roll after winning the Brisbane International two week ago.
Svitolina had won their only previous tour-level match, but had no answers on Rod Laver Arena.
Mertens raced out to a 5-2 in the first set before Svitolina got her only service break. The second set was no contest. Mertens won a 27-point rally while holding serve in the fourth game, then hit a backhand winner into the open corner to break Svitolina in the next game for a 5-0 lead.
Svitolina, who had a late finish to her fourth-round match that started just before midnight Sunday, framed an overhead and hit it over the baseline to give Mertens match point. Mertens duly finished it with a backhand crosscourt winner.
Mertens will play either second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki or Carla Suarez Navarro in the semis.
In other quarterfinals, top-seeded Rafael Nadal was playing No. 6 Marin Cilic and No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov faced Kyle Edmund.


LIVE: Saudi Arabia vs Egypt — El-Hadary set to make history

Updated 3 min 48 sec ago
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LIVE: Saudi Arabia vs Egypt — El-Hadary set to make history

4PM: EL-HADARY SET TO MAKE HISTORY —  So the last matches of Group A have arrived and while hosts Russia will be battling it out with Uruguay to see who goes though as group winners, the Green Falcons and Egypt have little but pride to play for in Volgograd.

The big team news that has come out so far is that Hector Cuper has had a heart and will start Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary. That means El-Hadary will become the oldest player ever to appear at a World Cup. Aged 45 years, five months and 12 days he will smash the record currently held by Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who was aged 43 years and three days when he played against Japan in Brazil in 2014.

This may be a dead rubber, however, both sides will be keen to get a win. Saudi Arabia are looking for their first World Cup victory since 1994, while the Pharaohs are searching for their first win in the tournament ever.

Kick-off is at 5PM.