French
Open: Simona Halep demolishes Amanda Anisimova, cruises into second week
Halep is back in the second week of the French Open for the sixth time in her career , her fifth in a row as well. Photo: Thomas Samson

Romanian former world number one Simona Halep, seeded first at this year’s French Open, took on 25th seeded American Amanda Anisimova in what was a repeat of their quarterfinal clash here a year ago, where Anisimova, who had become the first player born in the 21st century to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal then, upset Halep for her second career top 10 win, and a spot in her first Grand Slam semifinal.

This time, however, it was a first-week meeting for both women and Halep, the top favourite for the title, was in no mood for a repeat of that result as she dropped just one game in the 54-minute encounter, in what was a clinical performance on her part to reach the round of 16 in Paris for the sixth time in her career.

Halep races off to opening set bagel

Receiving first, Halep started the match with her foot on the pedal from the get-go, carving out two break point opportunities, and converted her second courtesy of an Anisimova double fault. The next game saw the American race off to two break point chances of her own after pulling off back-to-back winners. Halep, however, was not giving in soon as she would save a total of five break points in that game alone en route to consolidating the service break.

Another Anisimova error down break point in the her next service game saw her hand another break to the top seed, and the Romanian faced less issues solidifying her double break lead after that, winning four points in a row from 0-30 down to steam ahead 4-0. The American, now in danger of seeing the opening set slip away, was just not able to break the game-winning streak of the former world number one.

An error-strewn service game on the Anisimova serve followed, which saw her hit three unforced errors and a double fault back-to-back give the her opponent a chance to serve out the set. There, Halep would win a 19-shot rally and then deliver an ace to set up set point, which she duly converted to score the opening-set bagel which took 24 minutes to complete.

25th-seeded Anisimova did not have a good day at the office, her 32 unforced errors outnumbering 18 winners of her own. Photo: Clive Brunskill.
25th-seeded Anisimova did not have a good day at the office, her 32 unforced errors outnumbering 18 winners of her own. Photo: Clive Brunskill

Halep surrenders her only game of the match en route to victory

The second set kicked off with Anisimova finally getting her first hold of serve, thus earning herself the elusive game. However, that would be the only one she wins in the entire match. The next three games all went in favour of her top-seeded opponent who, in that span, dropped just five points, even breaking her serve once more, to go up 3-1.

There was no stopping Halep now as the Romanian converted her second break point in the next Anisimova service game, and then held serve to love to come within touching distance of avenging her loss 12 months prior. The closing game of the match saw Anisimova unsuccessful in both her game point chances but the same cannot be said for Halep and her two match points as she converted her second one to seal the win 6-0, 6-1.

Halep hits a backhand in her destruction of her American opponent Friday. Photo: Clive Brunskill
Halep hits a backhand in her destruction of her American opponent Friday. Photo: Clive Brunskill

Halep’s clean performance as reflected in the statistics of the match saw her record 72% of first serves, winning 77% of points behind them. She was also spotless at the net, winning all her three points there. She also delivered 15 winners for the day, to just seven unforced errors, three of the latter being double faults.

Anisimova, however, despite hitting three more winners than her opponent, had 32 unforced errors of her own which proved costly. Moreover, the American’s serve let her down as she managed just 59% of first serves, and won 53% of points behind them.

Up next

Halep next faces Polish rising star Iga Swiatek for a place in the quarterfinals. It will be another Paris rematch as far as the Romanian is concerned. Both had met in the same round here 12 months ago which Halep won handily, like her win Anisimova today, surrendering just one game. Swiatek thus will looking for revenge, to realise her upset bid against the former world number one and reach her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal.

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