Wimbledon 2019

Azarenka in Halep's way

Simona Halep returning to fellow Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu at Wimbledon yesterday. She is seeded outside the top five at a Grand Slam for the first time in three years. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Simona Halep returning to fellow Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu at Wimbledon yesterday. She is seeded outside the top five at a Grand Slam for the first time in three years. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Romanian finds it tough going as she gets used to new coach; Wawrinka falls to giant

LONDON • Simona Halep said on Tuesday that this will be a "chill year" for her, reiterating her stance of not putting too much pressure on herself after she exited the French Open quarter-finals.

The problem with that was that the former world No. 1 could not find a way to fire herself up when she needed it the most. The seventh seed had to labour through her second-round match yesterday at Wimbledon to get past fellow Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in nearly two hours.

Halep, seeded outside the top five at a Grand Slam for the first time in three years, hit 12 winners to 19 unforced errors.

While Buzarnescu had more winners, she also hit more errors, with 25 to 44 by the end of the match.

Halep insisted last month that she would push "a little more" next year, as she adjusts to a new partnership with Daniel Dobre.

She split with her Australian coach Darren Cahill at the end of last year and admitted after the match that she felt his absence.

"I miss his person there in the box. I had a great connection with him always," Halep said on the Wimbledon website.

The 27-year-old will next take on another former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who thrashed Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 6-0.

  • SELECTED RESULTS

  • MEN

    2nd rd Reilly Opelka (USA) bt Stan Wawrinka (Sui) 7-5 3-6 4-6 6-4 8-6, Jiri Vesely (Cze) bt Pablo Cuevas (Uru) 4-6 7-6(7-5) 6-4 6-4, Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) bt Ivo Karlovic 6-3 6-7(6-8) 6-3 6-7(4-7) 6-4.

    WOMEN

    2nd rd Hsieh Su-wei (Tpe) bt Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) 7-6(7-3) 6-3, Karolina Pliskova (Cze) bt Monica Puig (Pur) 6-0 6-4, Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (Aus) 6-2 6-0, Zhang Shuai (Chn) bt Yanina Wickmayer (Bel) 6-3 6-2. 1st rd: Pauline Parmentier (Fra) bt Maria Sharapova (Rus) 4-6 7-6(7-4) 5-0 retired.

In yesterday's other key early match, Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova reached the last 32 with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Puerto Rico's Olympic champion Monica Puig.

Pliskova will face Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei next.

In the men's draw, Reilly Opelka blasted his way into the third round as the giant 21-year-old American's serve eventually proved too hot to handle for three-time Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.

Opelka came through 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 against the Swiss for the biggest win of his career.

At 2.11m, the former Wimbledon junior champion is the joint-tallest-ever ATP-ranked player (with Ivo Karlovic) and, unsurprisingly, his biggest weapon is his serve. It reached 228kmh yesterday and, combined with some surprisingly deft court movement, is the perfect Wimbledon weapon.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray and Serena Williams will form a mixed doubles dream team at Wimbledon and will take on German Andreas Mies and Alexa Guarachi of Chile in the first round.

The Scot, who is gradually returning to tennis following career-threatening hip resurfacing surgery, is already entered into the men's doubles at Wimbledon where he is playing alongside France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

"His work ethic is just honestly off the charts. That's something I've always respected about him," Williams said of her fellow former world No. 1.

"To do what he's done in an era where there's so many other great male tennis players, to rise above it, not many people have done it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2019, with the headline 'Azarenka in Halep's way'. Print Edition | Subscribe