Dover’s Brengle battles flu while advancing in Australian Open

DOVER — After a memorable run in last year’s Australian Open, Madison Brengle was hoping to pick up where she left off.

Coming down with the flu just before the Grand Slam tennis tournament started wasn’t part of the plan, though.

Brengle, the 25-year-old from Dover, had to withdraw from last week’s Hobart International in the middle of her first match because she was so sick.

Gabby Brengle, Madison’s mother, said her daughter spent most of the week in bed.

So Gabby said that she’s “happily surprised” that Madison has made it to the third round of the Australian Open.

Brengle pulled out a tough, second-round win over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, late Wednesday evening.

“I don’t think you come off of the flu feeling too perky,” Gabby said with a laugh. “I think every round has been such a treat. Everybody (in the tourney) is so amazing. No round is secure ever.

“I think she’s just so happy to be healthy enough to play. I know she was really worried. Obviously, when you’re that sick, you’re thinking, ‘How am I ever going to do this?’ I think she’s just thrilled to be able to be out there and feeling well enough to play.”

Brengle, who last year made it to the fourth round of the Australian for the first time in her career, has now reached at least the third round in three of her last five Grand Slam tournaments.

But here’s where it gets really tough.

In the third round, Brengle will have to face seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany, who is currently ranked sixth in the world. Brengle is No. 49.

The match will be played either late Friday night (U.S. East Coast time) or early Saturday morning.

All-time, Brengle is 0-3 against the 28-year-old Kerber. That includes a 6-3, 6-0 loss on Jan. 4 at the WTA Brisbane tournament.

Brengle did win a set from Kerber in Tokoyo in October before falling, 7-5, 1-6, 0-6.

Gabby Brengle, though, said she didn’t even mention Kerber to Madison when the two talked after her victory on Wednesday night.

“I knew who she was probably going to play but she hadn’t even looked at the draw,” said Gabby. “I didn’t even want to bring it up.”

Even before coming down with the flu, it’s been an eventful couple years for Brengle medically. After dealing with a patch of skin cancer late in 2014, she had surgery to remove a mass from her jaw this past November.

Before the operation, Madison helped her mom with tennis lessons at the family’s Dover Indoor Tennis Center.

“My students got a big dose of her,” said Gabby.

Going into the Australian Open, Gabby knew how sick Madison had been when she withdrew from the Hobart match.

“She was so disappointed when she had to withdraw,” said Gabby. “Even if she doesn’t feel well, she’ll play out the match. She has to be feeling kind of like she’s on death’s door to drop out.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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