Simona Halep affirmed her position the favourite for the Roland Garros title when she outclassed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia, triumphing in three sets as the Romanian served out a breadstick and a bagel in the process.
Halep strolls to win the first set
Pavlyuchenkova had the worst possible start to the match as she threw away a 30-0 lead in the opening game as Halep took the early break in the opening game, taking the lead. Coming from 15-30 down in the next game, the Romanian consolidated the break of serve narrowly and opened up an early 2-0 lead as she looked to be on fire in the opening stages, with her groundstrokes working very well.
The Russian finally got herself onto the scoreboard as she put in some consistent serves, holding her serve to prevent Halep from running away with the set. However, the higher-ranked player was performing much better today as she eventually stormed to rattle four consecutive games, sealing the first set 6-1 after just a mere 26 minutes with Pavlyuchenkova looking out of sorts.
Pavlyuchenkova fights back
Despite Halep having the momentum running in her from the first set, Pavlyuchenkova made the first breakthrough in the second set as she won just her second game and broke serve to jump out to an early lead, before consolidating the break for a two-game advantage with a comfortable service hold. Nevertheless, Halep showed her desire to close this match out as soon as possible when she came up with some excellent offensive tennis to outhit Pavlyuchenkova and return level on the scoreboard.
The second set became like a galore of service breaks as it was a totally different case as compared to the first set, with Halep looking to exploit the weak mental toughness of the Russian when she held her serve for a 4-3 lead. However, Pavlyuchenkova proved everyone wrong when she played some of her best tennis in this match, claiming three straight games to unexpectedly seal the second set 6-4 which lasted 47 minutes.
Halep seals the win
The final set started the way Halep would have wanted as she had the advantage of serving first, which she took full use of as she easily secured her service game to gain the momentum. Despite owning a 30-15 lead, Pavlyuchenkova somehow got her rhythm all mixed up and started to hit a string of unforced errors, eventually seeing Halep get the early break in the final set and allowing her to look on course for the victory.
With confidence and the power on her shots, Halep successfully closed out the match as she comfortably sealed up a bagel in the final set, outclassing the Russian in every aspect of the game. Pavlyuchenkova hit more than 35 unforced errors to the match, as compared to Halep who hit just nine of them throughout the match. Dominating her service games, Halep looked like a real contender for the title once again.