Daria Gavrilova has let slip a golden opportunity to move into the Australian Open third round, collapsing against Belgian Elise Mertens.
- Daria Gavrilova lost after holding a 5-0 first-set lead
- Gavrilova attempted to challenge an incorrect ruling but was too late
- Elise Mertens will play against Alize Cornet in round three
The Australian number two suffered a heartbreaking 7-5, 6-3 loss after holding a 5-0 first-set lead with a controversial blow-up with the umpire marring the second set.
With the match starting one minute before midnight — the latest ever at Melbourne Park — Gavrilova got off to a flyer, breaking Mertens twice.
The world number 23 had four set points at 5-0 but was unable to convert and then missed another four opportunities.
Gavrilova was not aware of how many set points she had blown until the post-match press conference.
"That sucks. I can't believe it got away from me but it just happened and it happened quickly," she said.
"I've seen players lose before from 5-0 up and thought, surely they could have just hit a winner, but clearly I couldn't so it's a new experience."
Umpire slammed for 'horrendous call'
The 23-year-old served 10 double faults for the match, while her unforced errors went through the roof with a total of 40.
The Australian was rocked in the second set when, trailing 4-2, she tried to challenge an incorrect ruling but umpire Aurelie Tourte said she was too late and had looked to her box first.
"I raised my hand straight away," Gavrilova said, with Toute replying: "No, you were waiting."
Commentators described it as a "horrendous call".
Post-match Gavrilova said she had raised her hand within seconds although admitted her coach Jarryd Maher did signal.
"She said my coach told me to but he did go like that [pointed upwards with her finger] but that could have meant anything," she said.
Mertens went on to secure the double break and although Gavrilova broke back, she was visibly upset and continued the argument with the umpire post match.
Gavrilova has enjoyed a stellar Open run, making the fourth round in the past two years, while this was Mertens' Melbourne Park debut.
The Belgian will face Alize Cornet of France in round three.