Czech Strikes First
The pair shared breaks in the first two games of their third career meeting. With extended rallies early on, the match-up was looking as if it was going to be a hard-fought battle. The Czech followed her break in the second game by consolidating on her serve. Strycova, the clear underdog, looked comfortable and confident on court as she scrambled and countered with depth as well as craftiness. But the world number 37 could not get too comfortable since the defending champion was on the other side of the net.
Defending Champion Overcomes Early Struggles
Returning down 3-1, the Romanian’s backhand stayed solid to put the set back on serve. The fifth seed followed up her break to hold serve for the first time in the sixth game and left her needing to lower her amount of errors and find Halep’s weakness. Strycova attempted the serve and volley tactic, which worked as she is a successful doubles player as well. Despite holding points to maintain the on-serve set, frustration shown through and last year’s champion in the desert took her third straight game for a 4-3 lead.
A lengthy service hold from the world number five was finished with a well-placed slice serve to the Czech’s weakness; her forehand. The Strycova forehand errors continued, vaulting Halep to hold a set point. A volley sent long off the 29-year-old’s racquet saw the 24-year-old win her fifth straight game and the first set, 6-3
Strycova Unable To Continue
After Barbora Strycova dropped the opening set, a visit from the trainer suggested that she was not feeling at her best. The 2014 French Open finalist kicked off the, soon to be concluded, second set by holding to love. But the health conditions of the Plzen, Czech Republic native seemed too much to handle as she retired the match because of an upper respiratory illness.
Halep Reflects and Looks Ahead
In her post match interview, Halep said “I feel sorry for her, being sick. I know how it is, and it’s tough to continue to play the match. It was a good start for me; I played a good first set, but the conditions are really difficult because I played two matches in the cold weather, and now it’s hot. I tried everything to keep things going in the right way, so I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals.”
Simona Halep will face the world number one seed, Serena Williams, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. The Romanian counter-puncher looks forward to her eighth meeting with last year’s semifinalist. Despite having points to defend from her 2015 title run, she stated in her post-match interview that she has nothing to lose, considering Serena Williams is the best player in the world. But as always, Simona Halep believes in herself and will walk onto to Stadium 1 with confidence and an optimistic attitude.