Mel South came through an epic match against Katie O’Brien to book her place in the AEGON Classic second round.
Playing on the Centre Court in Edgbaston, South held her nerve at the crucial time to defeat O’Brien 6-4 1-6 7-6(5) in over two hours on Monday afternoon.
Having exchanged early breaks of serve in the first set, South made the decisive break through at 4-4 and then held her own serve to seize the advantage.
However, O’Brien fought back strongly, winning the second set in confident fashion before a break of serve each early in the decider left the match on a knife edge.
Serving at 4-5, O’Brien saved three match points and then immediately broke South, only to lose her own serve to love in the next game – the final set headed into a tie-break from which South prevailed.
“I was pretty relieved to win in the end,” said South, who reached the quarter final in Edgbaston last year and will now meet the No.1 seed from China, Jie Zheng.
“As we are both good friends, it’s hard to play each other, so it wasn’t the prettiest tennis. But I kept fighting and found a way in the end. I’ve done a lot of hard work and training in the last two months and now it’s really paying off.”
“It’s really tough to play someone that you know well as it puts a whole new dynamic on the match and that made us both nervous. So I just tried to laugh after every shot I hit in the third set to try and relax me and it worked.”