Top seed Simona Halep needed four match points to see off Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on Wednesday, squeezing into the quarter-finals of the WTA Dubai Championships 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (9/7).
“I don’t know how I was able to finish this,” said Halep who had to save a match point herself before progressing.
“It was up-and-down because she doesn’t give rhythm. It was very weird, but I’m happy I could win.”
The Wimbledon champion’s win came after Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza re-established order among the top seeds after a run of upsets at the Aviation Club.
World number three Pliskova strolled to a 6-1, 6-2 win over qualifier Kristina Mladenovic in barely an hour, before ninth seed Muguruza took almost two-and-a-half hours to get past Russian Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Three big names had exited the day before – defending champion Belinda Bencic, third seed Elina Svitolina and Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin.
The tense Halep match resembled a Fed Cup tie, with rival groups of Tunisian and Romanian fans out-shouting each other.
“It was like a football match or a Fed Cup match. I didn’t really realise what was going on on court,” added Halep.
“Everyone was with a lot of energy so we had to give our best. I think it was a great match.”
Wildcard Jabeur, ranked 45, came from 4-2 down in the final-set tiebreaker, missing a match point of her own when she netted a forehand.
Halep, who lost the opening set in 26 minutes, eventually claimed victory when Jabeur drove long.
“It was a very tough match, she played well,” Halep said. “I wanted to give all I had and just wanted to win. I didn’t give up, I’m proud I fought to the end.”
In the quarter-finals, Halep faces Belarusian seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka who defeated doubles partner Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-4, 6-3.
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