Australian Open: Elise Mertens moves into quarterfinals

The Belgian defeated Petra Martic 7-6 (7/4), 7-5.

Elise Mertens became the first Belgian to move into the last eight in six years.   -  AP

Elise Mertens became the first Belgian to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open since Kim Clijsters in 2012 with a straight sets win over Petra Martic on Sunday. The unseeded World No. 37 edged the big-serving Croat 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 in almost two hours of baseline war on Margaret Court Arena.

In-form Mertens is making her Australian Open main draw debut and is on a nine-match win streak after making a successful title defence in the warm-up event in Hobart just over a week ago.

‘Good start to the year’

"I've had an amazingly good start to the year," she said after having to grind out victory after leading 4-0 in the first set and being broken in the second when serving for the match for a first time.

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She could next face another in-form player, fourth seed Elina Svitolina who won the Brisbane International warm-up. The Ukrainian will first need to get through a late match against qualifier Denisa Allertova.

Mertens is in uncharted territory in her fifth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam. She has only once before got past the opening round in a major, at Roland Garros last year when she reached the third round.