Melbourne VIC, Australia, 15 December 2016 |

Alison Bai looked set for an easy path into the semifinals of the Australian Open play-off before Sara Tomic flipped the script.

Leading by a set and 5-1, Bai couldn’t put her 18-year-old opponent away.

Yet the second seed steadied in the third set to eventually post a 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 victory.

“I’m very relieved to get through,” said Bai after setting up a semifinal against Abbie Myers, who beat No.4 seed Naiktha Bains in straight sets.

> view the AO Play-off women’s draw

“When I was a set and 5-2 up in the second, I started getting ahead of myself, which is what happened in my last match.

“But give her credit – she stepped up and started being really aggressive and playing well.

“After losing the second set, I had to regroup and not think about it. I went back to the game plan I had at the beginning of the match, and that – together with my experience – saw me through in the end.”

Indeed, although Bai – who also led 5-1 in the first set – let go of her lead, much of that was to do with Tomic’s pressure.

The Queensland teen ripped several scorching returns and cut down her errors, forcing an increasingly passive Bai to make mistakes.

Tomic’s improved court coverage was also on show as she won a number of long rallies.

Bai, however, has played on the pro tour for nearly a decade, and just over a year ago peaked at a career-high ranking of No.305.

Trust in her game was a factor in the world No.410’s victory today.

“I’ve been working hard on my fitness and my movement around the court, I feel like I’m moving much better now than I was and can cover the court much quicker, which gives me more confidence going into matches,” Bai said.

“My main strengths are my serve and my forehand, so if I can keep them at a high level and keep moving around the court well, hopefully I can step up a level in the semifinal.

“I’ll watch the quarterfinal this afternoon to see who I’m playing, but I know all the girls pretty well so there’s probably not much I can learn that I don’t already know.”

For more information, visit the Australian Open Play-off homepage.