Two-time French Open runner-up and world number one Simona Halep continued her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title in fine style on Thursday, with the Romanian easing past America’s Taylor Townsend to reach the third round in Paris.
Halep, who will lose the world number one ranking if she fails to make the last four, suffered a scare in her opening round match, rallying from a set down to beat Alison Riske yesterday, though was much more comfortable on Court Philippe Chatrier today. The Romanian lost serve just once, when serving for the first set, and broke Townsend five times to seal a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 victory in just an hour and eight minutes.
Halep much improved as she continues to hunt elusive slam title
Having lost in the final in Paris both last year and back in 2014, many people are backing Halep to finally win a Grand Slam title on the clay this year- something that has eluded her so far. Despite a slow start in her delayed first round match, Halep pulled through fairly safely yesterday, and continued to improve today.
Townsend first made headlines at this tournament four years ago, reaching the third round as a wildcard, though in her first ever match on Chatrier the American started slowly, dropping a double break down early on as Halep eased to a 3-0 lead. The Romanian looked very comfortable early on, though Townsend had worked her way slowly into the set, holding twice, and took advantage of a small handful of errors to break Halep when she was serving for the set. Now down 3-5, the American had the opportunity to apply more pressure, though couldn’t do so, with some costly errors seeing Halep rebound and break to take the first set.
Despite a slight wobble, Halep had been mostly in control of the opener, and continued to apply pressure on Townsend early on in the second. The Romanian was comfortable in her opening two service games, and at 2-1 broke the American for the fourth time. Halep showed no sign of slowing down, holding for a 4-1 lead in the second, and despite her best efforts, Townsend could do little to halt the top seed’s march to victory as some more unfortunate errors saw the American fall 1-5 down. Despite failing to serve the first set out at 5-2, Halep had no trouble this time, calmly serving out to seal an impressive victory.
It was undoubtedly an impressive performance by Halep, who was unafraid to be aggressive against the American wildcard; the world number one hit 13 unforced errors, but also hit an impressive 21 winners in the course of the match. The Romanian may have her trickiest match so far in the third round against Andrea Petkovic, in what will be a rematch of the 2014 semifinal her that Halep won in straight sets. It is the first time since the US Open in 2015 that Petkovic has reached the third round of a slam.