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Wimbledon Day 5 | Halep stays on course

Wimbledon Day 5 | Halep stays on course
David Musgrove Photographu

World No 2 Simona Halep has been quietly but efficiently battling her way into the fourth round at Wimbledon, scoring a victory over China’s Peng Shuai on Friday, 6-4 7-6(7) in a 99-minute match on Court Two.

Today was a very high level of tennis. She plays really well. I played well. I’m really thankful with the way that I played and how I’ve been on court

Simona Halep

The 25-year-old Romanian, seeded second in the tournament and within touching distance of the No 1 spot if she reaches the semi-finals at Wimbledon, wore down her 31-year-old opponent with heavy groundstrokes from the baseline, clipping the lines with her penetrating forehands.

Looking to assuage the disappointment of losing the French Open final last month to Jelena Ostapenko from a set and 3-0 up, Halep was nonetheless given a run for her money on another scorching day at SW19.

As Halep looked to be cruising home in the second set, Pen, ranked 37, broke back to force a tie-break.

Halep eventually served an ace for a second match point, with Peng misfiring a long ball to end her tournament.

Peng, the world number 37, was the last of the six Chinese players in the women’s tournament.

“I’m really happy [to be in the second week]. I think I played every match better,” Halep said.

“Today was a very high level of tennis. She plays really well. I played well. I’m really thankful with the way that I played and how I’ve been on court.”

The victory will see Halep meet former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round, after the Belarussian fought back to overcome Great Britain’s Heather Watson on Friday.

Watson took the first set with a confident 6-3, but Azarenka made light work of the Brit in the second set to force a decider.

The third set was tighter, with Azarenka eventually edging in front in a 10-minute seventh game, but Watson fought to break back immediately afterwards

The fightback was short-lived, with Azarenka eventually winning through, 4-6 6-1 6-4.

“Doesn’t really matter to me who is on the other side. I always treat my matches, you know, and every opponent I respect the same way,” Azarenka said.

“But it is good for me to play against her {Halep]. As you mentioned, we had a good match in US Open, and I need to raise my level to play against players like this. So I’m excited for the challenge, for sure.”

Jelena Ostapenko defied all odds in Paris by winning the title, unheralded and unseeded and, after today, she could well turn things upside down again at the All England Club.

Her 7-5 7-5 victory over Italy’s Camila Giorgi means the feisty 20-year-old is only four wins away from completing what would be astonishing French Open/Wimbledon double, which would put her in the same league as Serena Williams and Steffi Graf, the only two players to achieve one of the toughest tasks in tennis.

Her mother and coach, also Jelena, said it might finally sink in that her daughter is a Grand Slam champion if she wins another one and, with the women’s draw wide open, it would be dangerous to write off the Latvian.

“I’m just trying to play free, not to think too much,” Ostapenko said.

“After French I’m more confident, so I’m playing every match better and better. I think I play aggressive. I control the matches. I feel pretty consistent.”

Her opponent, Giorgi, must be wondering how she did not at least take a set after the Italian, ranked 86, served for the first set at 5-3 but a double-fault and a backhand error allowed Ostapenko back into the match.

Ostapenko let rip at her coaching team, including Spanish WTA player Anabel Medina Garrigues, when she fell 5-2 behind again in the second set but she steadied enough to hold and left Giorgi again serving for the set at 5-3.

The Italian fired yet another double-fault and Ostapenko pounced to snatch back the break with a backhand winner and then there was no stopping her with the Latvian allowing her opponent only three more points.

Elsewhere, France’s Caroline Garcia, the 21st seed, defeated American Madison Brengle 6-4 6-3, while Croatian Ana Konjuh’s caused an upset by knocking out eighth seed Dominika Cibulkova out of the competition with a 7-6(3) 3-6 6-4 victory.

Garcia will meet with Great Britain’s Johanna Konta, the bookies latest favourite who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time after a straight-set victory over Greece’s Maria Sakkari, 6-4 6-1.

Meanwhile, Venus Williams became the oldest player to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon in 23 years as the five-time champion defeated Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-6 (3) 6-4 on Friday.

At 37 years and 29 days old, Williams is the most senior player to make the fourth round since Martina Navratilova, aged 37 years and 258 days, in 1994.

Navratilova went on to finish as Wimbledon runner-up that year and, given the absence of her sister and defending champion Serena Williams, the world number 11 will believe she can at least emulate that feat.

Osaka was born a month after Venus reached her first US Open final in 1997 and the world number 59 was unable to spring a surprise against one of her childhood idols despite a battling display on No 1 Court.

Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, last won Wimbledon in 2008, but she has enjoyed a late career revival which saw her make the All England Club semi-finals last year and the Australian Open final in January.

She faces Croatian 27th seed Ana Konjuh in the fourth round as she eyes a 13th Wimbledon quarter-final appearance.

“I just try to play the best I can. I’ve played three matches now, and had zero breathing room in any of them,” Venus said.

“My opponents played well, served well, competed well all moments. I’ve had to step it up. I imagine that’s going to continue. All I can do is try to be my best.”

 








About The Author

Barbara Wancke

Barbara Wancke is a Tennis Threads Tennis Correspondent who has been involved in the sport for over 40 years, not only as a former player, umpire and coach but primarily as an administrator and tennis writer contributing over the years to Lawn Tennis, Tennis World, and Tennis Today. She has worked with the Dunlop Sports Co, IMG and at the ITF as Director of Women’s Tennis, responsible, amongst other things, for the running of the Federation Cup (now Fed Cup), and acting as Technical Director for tennis at the Seoul Olympics (1988). She subsequently set up her own tennis consultancy Tennis Interlink and was elected to the Board of the TIA UK where she became the Executive Administrator and Executive Vice President until she stood down in July 2014 and is currently an Honorary Vice President.

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