By Reuters

Simona Halep had to be at her counter-punching best to fight off another determined second-set comeback bid from Elise Mertens on Monday as the Romanian world number three advanced to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Halep, a beaten finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago, moved on with a 6-4 6-4 victory that sets up a meeting with Estonia’s 28th-seed Anett Kontaveit in the last eight.

000 19F5PR 640x426 - Counter-punching Halep beats Mertens to reach quarters

(AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS ASFOURI)

Halep had lost to Mertens in the Doha final last year when up a set and cruising in the second and the Romanian conceded nerves crept into her game as the momentum shifted on Monday.

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