Defending champion Julia Goerges has survived a major scare at the ASB Classic, being pushed to the limit by Eugenie Bouchard on Friday.

Goerges saved a match point late in the third set, before eventually prevailing 3-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in almost two and a half hours, to advance to the semifinals.

In a contest of fine margins and played in horribly windy conditions, the difference was Goerges' ability to dictate the rallies, especially when she advanced to the net.

That assertive approach certainly sealed the tiebreak, where the world No 14 wasted two match points before converting her third.

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The result was tough on the Canadian, who lifted her levels well beyond what we had seen earlier in the week.

It was the match of the tournament so far, with ample drama, stunning shot making and so many twists and turns.

Conditions were extremely difficult. A swirling wind was a menace on centre court, especially on serve, and it never really abated.

Given the climate – which also sent hats flying and meant all courtside umbrellas were taken down – the players coped extremely well, achieving, for the most part, a high quality of tennis.

Bouchard grabbed an early break, narrowly avoiding a collision with the umpires chair as she sprinted to retrieve a Goerges drop shot.

Eugenie Bouchard couldn't capitalise on her lead. Photo / Photosport
Eugenie Bouchard couldn't capitalise on her lead. Photo / Photosport

Goerges struggled from the start, with some uncharacteristic unforced errors, while Bouchard looked a completely different player from the one who struggled to get past lowly ranked Dutch qualifier Bibiane Schoofs in the second round.

Gone was the erratic stroke play that made that performance such a topsy turvy one, and more importantly Bouchard seemed to have the right focus, after her near meltdown on court in Wednesday's second round.

She had the right mix of aggression and patience, and after a getting a break, stayed in the ascendancy for the set. Bouchard couldn't convert a set point at 5-2 on the Goerges serve, but made no mistake in the next game, serving out with aplomb.

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The defending champion managed to turn the momentum around in the second set. She began to find her range off her forehand wing, and wound up the deadly serve, which was the most effective in the WTA last year.

Bouchard couldn't find a single break point opportunity, while Goerges created four, and converted one.

That was enough to take the set, which she wrapped up with an ace.

The final set was a nail biter.

Bouchard edged ahead – with one kneeling backhand shot from the Canadian bringing the crowd to their feet – before a Goerges comeback.

Two errors in the ninth game gave the German a break point, but Bouchard showed admirable composure to save the situation.

Both players had further chances, with Goerges saving a match point at 5-6 with a courageous second serve under pressure.

Goerges was always going to be favoured once the match went to a tie break, given her superior serve and skills at the net and so it proved.