Simona Halep continues to provide performances which could well take her all the way at the French Open as the field, with the dismissal of the reigning champion in the previous round, opens up considerably.
She is a very good player on clay. I pushed her back, I tried to be aggressive and I was extra motivated because I really enjoy this court and it’s great to play the quarterfinal again Simona Halep
The Romanian dismissed the 29-year old, Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets 6-1 6-1 to advance into the last eight.
It took the Spaniard five games before she made an impression on the scoreboard when she held serve in the sixth game to the crowds welcoming applause.
But it wasn’t a major awakening as Halep, the third seed, immediately took back control and never looked back.
“I think I played my best match this year,” Halep said. “She is a very good player on clay. I pushed her back, I tried to be aggressive and I was extra motivated because I really enjoy this court and it’s great to play the quarterfinal again.”
Her next opponent is the fifth seeded Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine who came back from a set and 2-5 down in the third to put out Croatia’s Petra Martic 4-6 6-3 7-5.
“I had ‘Svitolina mode’ back,” Svitolina said about trailing 2-5 in the third set. “I start playing, I start waiting for the right ball. I was fighting to earn myself opportunities to hit a winner. I try to find myself in this zone where I don’t do many unforced errors and I still play aggressive. Sometimes, of course, there will be a struggle in my game. But then I find this place where I feel comfortable and very confident with my game.”
Meanwhile the second seed, Karolina Pliskova and No. 28 Caroline Garcia also set up a meeting when the Czech came from a set down to beat Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 2-6 6-3 6-4, while Garcia won the all-French grudge match with Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4.
“Before I would have a lot of negative thoughts,” Garcia said. “Today I was super determined, and able to push out these negative thoughts. Even playing on Chatrier, I was just going for it. I was pretty happy I was going to play on this court against Alize Cornet.”
The two French women had not been on speaking terms since a controversy surrounding Garcia’s refusal to play in the Fed Cup this year but it would seem the match has now cleared the air as they kissed each other on the cheek at the end of the encounter.
“It was the coldest kiss I had in my life, but it was a kiss,” Cornet said. “I was not expecting that she wanted to give me a kiss, and I liked it. It was good to finish on this note — I wouldn’t have liked just a handshake, like very cold. I’m not this kind of person. I’m a very nice person. I don’t like the conflict, so I told her good luck, and I mean it.”
Garcia said she wanted to concentrate on being a professional rather than wasting energy thinking about the feud.
“Everyone was waiting for a very cold match and everyone was — I’m sure that everyone looked at this match to see how it was going to happen,” Garcia said. “Everyone was surprised.
“Maybe it’s going to be a battle or whatever. But I just tried to stay like a professional player. I play tennis because I enjoy it, and I don’t want to get into any fights with anyone. What happened, happened. We never forget about it. Tennis is a game. I play to enjoy, and that’s it.
“Honestly, this was not prepared … I shook her hand and then I think I kissed her.
“Once again, this is a tennis match, and I wanted to be professional, play my match and not pay attention to all these other things. But I knew people were eager. People were very impatient. There were a lot of expectations.”
The 28th-seeded Garcia, who will take on second seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic for a place in the last four, joins Mladenovic in the quarter-finals, the first time two Frenchwomen have reach that stage since 1994.