Defending champion and world number three Simona Halep cruised past American Vania King 6-1, 6-1 to reach the third round at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Halep got her title defense underway in impressive fashion to capture only her third match win of the year.
Halep Cruises Through Opening Set
Halep began the match putting immediate pressure on King, breaking the California native on her third break chance. King responded immediately, breaking the Romanian on her second chance, getting the match back on serve. The world number three broke the American again, before holding for the first hold of the match. Halep again broke King, keeping up the constant pressure on the American, going up 4-1. The former French Open finalist then held easily for 5-1, before breaking King for the fourth time in the set, the story of the opening set for King, as Halep took the opening set 6-1, beating up on the American the entire set.
Second Set A Carbon Copy To First
The defending champion began the set with an easy hold to fifteen, before breaking King at love, to go up 2-0. Halep held again for 3-0, before breaking King for the sixth time in the match, King yet to hold serve. In the fifth game of the set, the world number 202 broke Halep to get on the board at 4-1, before the Romanian again broke King for 5-1, to give herself a chance to serve for the match. Halep made no mistake, serving the match out easily to fifteen to take it 6-1, 6-1, to register only her third match win of 2016.
Halep Discusses The Win
"I have to take like a positive thing and go in there just to give my best to work hard every day and just to take the match day like a normal day," Halep said of being defending champion.
"I'm doing this and I feel much better ... It was the first match, first round. We will see how it will be in the next rounds. Because it's not easy, but it's good that I could do the first step."
Halep Behind The Numbers
Halep served fairly well throughout, making 73 percent of first serves and winning 60 percent of points when she got her first delivery in play. On the second serve the former French Open finalist was impressive, winning 73 percent of second serve points, something that's been lacking in Halep's game the past two months. Though the Romanian served well, the defending champion was near perfect on return, breaking the King serve in all seven of the American's service games. Halep won an outstanding 73 percent of first serve points and an equally as impressive 76 percent on second serve returns. Halep's incredible returning performance served as a major key in her win today, and may just be the thing that gets her 2016 season back on track.
Up Next For Halep
Up next for the defending champion is 30 seed and two-time grand slam semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova. Makarova received a bye into the second round, where she fought past big hitting Czech Lucie Hradecka in two, tight sets. Halep and Makarova have played three times before, with the head to head at 2-1 in favor of the world number three. The two first played in New Haven in 2013, Halep's breakout tournament, with the Romanian winning 6-1, 7-6. In the pair's biggest meeting, Makarova eased past a lackluster Halep 6-4, 6-0 in the Australian Open quarterfinals, one of Halep's worst ever matches. Most recently the pair played in Dubai in 2015 in the semifinals, where the former French Open finalist gutted out a narrow 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 win to reach the final, where Halep won the title. With the incredible returning performance the defending champion put on today, her return will be key against the big, lefty serve of Makarova.