Melbourne VIC, Australia, 18 January 2018 | Alex Sharp

Daria Gavrilova’s Australian Open has been halted by a mesmerising comeback from Elise Mertens.

23rd seed Gavrilova made a perfect start, stepping in to command the court with several drive volleys to race 5-0 ahead.

Four set points were dissolved as Mertens, champion in Hobart last week, found her groove.

After 38 minutes Mertens was finally on the board and the world No.37 was able to tease the errors from Gavrilova.

A further four set points went begging for the home favourite, but Mertens was resolute in defence and managed to complete the opener with seven games in a row.

“She was playing amazing, all the balls were on the lines,” said Mertens, reflecting on the 0-5 deficit. “I’m glad I carried on fighting, kept believing and proved anything can happen in tennis.”

Mertens, who defeated Gavrilova recently at the Hopman Cup, surrendered serve leading at 5-2, but despite the Aussie’s best efforts, would not be denied passage into the third round.