West Australian Casey Dellacqua's sizzling Australian Open form has continued and she has rocketed into the fourth round with a 6-2 6-4 win against China's Zheng Jie today on Rod Laver Arena.
Playing her first singles match on centre court since 2010, Dellacqua began perfectly by breaking the powerful Zheng in the first game. She then saved a break point during the sixth game and followed that with a superb game to break Zheng again and take a 5-2 lead. Dellacqua then had no trouble serving out the set.
Playing in 42 degree heat, an amazing challenge in the first game of the second set when Dellacqua's looping shot landed 1mm in, kept the momentum going her way.
Instead of facing a game point, the deuce point got replayed and the Australian won it. The The 56th ranked Zheng saved the break but Dellacqua kept piling on the pressure and won the next two points to break her again.
It proved vital because Zheng broke her serve the next game to make it 1-1.
Zheng has played in two Australian Open semi-finals but Dellacqua's intimidating return of serve refused to let her get comfortable. Dellacqua drove a brilliant backhand down the line to break her again in the fifth game and take a 3-2 lead.
Zheng struggled with the heat at 4-3 and called for treatment as she battled for breath.
Icepacks were applied to her by trainers as the sun baked Rod Laver Arena.
She then returned to action and immediately broke Dellacqua in an amazing turnaround.
But Zheng's fifth double fault gave Dellacqua a break point in the next game and she made the most of the opportunity to break her and then serve out the match to win in one hour and 23 minutes.
Dellacqua will play Canadian 30th seed Eugenie Bouchard who beat American Lauren Davis earlier today 6-2 6-2.
Dellacqua has made the fourth round of a grand slam tournament just once - during her barnstorming run at the 2008 Australian Open.
"It feels pretty good. I didn't know if I'd ever be back in the fourth round of the Australian Open or any grand slam. Every athlete has their journey and mine was a couple of injuries, a couple of years of hard work and now
I'm back in the fourth round and it feels awesome," she said.