World No. 18 Elise Mertens pulled off a miraculous comeback, saving three match points en route to a 5-7, 7-5, 6-0 success over Jessica Pegula in the Dubai Open quarter-finals on Thursday. The Belgian 10th seed, who was down 5-7, 2-5 before she turned things around, is into the 15th tour-level semi-final of her career where she will face either her doubles partner Aryna Sabalenka or Garbine Muguruza. “It’s unbelievable to come back like this. I just didn’t want to let it go, I just kept on fighting, and I think that was the spirit today,” said Mertens.
Pegula, one of 15 main-draw debutants in Dubai this week, entered the quarter-finals having dropped just eight games through her first three rounds in the Emirates.
The 26-year-old American backed up her breakthrough run to the Australian Open last eight by making the semis in Doha last week prior to her arrival in the UAE.
Mertens, 25, is already a title winner this season, having picked up the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne last month, and is 11-1 win-loss in 2021.
She served for the opening set at 5-4 after claiming a crucial break of serve with a stunning backhand passing shot winner, but dropped the next eight points as Pegula grabbed the 75-minute set on a costly double fault.
Pegula leapt to a 4-1 advantage in the second but was broken at love while serving for the victory at 5-3.
Mertens saved three match points in the next game and stole the set to force a decider.
Pegula never recovered as Mertens claimed the last 11 games of the match to punch her ticket to the final four.
Earlier on centre court, the 63rd-ranked Barbora Krejcikova reached the biggest semi-final of her career with a dominant 6-0, 6-2 victory over Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova.
Krejcikova, a former doubles world No. 1, has enjoyed an impressive week so far, taking out No. 16 seed Maria Sakkari and Grand Slam champions Jelena Ostapenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to the last four.