French Open: Simona Halep edges past compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu to reach the third round.
Image: Julian Finney

Simona Halep arrived on Court Suzanne-Lenglen aiming to improve on her 15-match winning streak, with Romanian compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu standing in her way of making it sixteen wins in a row. The pair had met 7 times previously, with Halep winning each meeting for the loss of only one set, demonstrating what a huge task Begu had in front of her.

30 year-old Begu was coming off a superb, and perhaps surprising, first round win over Jil Teichmann, whilst recent Rome champion, Halep, brushed aside a slow start to overcome Sara Sorribes-Tormo and set up a seventh meeting.

Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Halep dominates from the start

There was no repeat of Halep’s slow start in round one, as she raced out of the traps by breaking serve in her very first return game, helped by Begu’s inability to find the court in extended rallies. Begu, the Romanian number three, continued to struggle to contain her more-illustrious compatriot in the next few games, but held strong by saving three more break points before breaking back in the seventh-game.

But the unforced-errors creeped back into the Begu game, with a mid-court forehand netted giving Halep the chance to serve out the opening set, which she did comfortably to 15 to win the set 6-3.

Halep edges a tighter second-set to seal victory

The world number 73 immediately found herself under pressure again on serve, saving another two break points before a dismissive forehand return winner from Halep forced the break. Begu responded with a forehand return winner of her own, breaking back in the very next game to level at 2-2.

The pair traded multiple holds of serve, but the difference in quality eventually told as the top-seed Halep broke again in the ninth game of the set to go up 5-4, and she served the win out to 30 to reach the third round of the French Open for the sixth time with another impressive forehand winner.

Photo: Julian Finney
Photo: Julian Finney

Difference in quality

As the match went on, Begu’s level began to rise and she competed stroke-for-stroke with the top seed for most of the second set, but when the crunch moments arrived it was the ability of Halep, to make her opponent play one more ball, that was the difference. The 2018 champion’s serve was also in impressive form again, allowing her to win 74% of points on her first serve.

Top seed Halep will now take on Amanda Anisimova in round three, in a repeat of last year's quarterfinal clash, when the American underdog surprised the tennis world by winning 6-2, 6-4. If the Romanian number one can keep this level up, it is difficult to see her being beaten.