Simona Halep put in yet another excellent performance to defeat a quality opponent in Peng Shuai, prevailing in straight sets after 1 hour and 38 minutes of play. It was truly an impressive display from both players in this Wimbledon third round clash, and Halep continued her quest for the number one ranking with this hard-fought win.
Halep takes the first set 6-4
Peng made an amazing start to the match as she won the first four points in the first game, showing no signs of early jitters after holding her serve to love. Nevertheless, Halep soon followed suit as the Chinese hit some unforced errors to waste a 0-30 lead, allowing the higher-ranked player to come back from the brink and narrowly hold her serve. Unexpectedly, it was Peng who next held her serve from 0-30 down as some inconsistencies on her backhand almost proved to be costly, but it also helped her to hold and remain on serve in the set. Her powerful backhands continued to show its worth as it was able to earn some winners for Peng, sealing the first break of the match with yet another backhand winner, taking the early lead.
Nevertheless, Halep broke straight back with some aggressive play, returning level as soon as possible. Coming from 15-30 down, the second seed faced troubles on her serve once again, but was able to eke out the service hold as she remained on serve and kept the scores tight. After an exchange of service holds, it was Halep who made the next breakthrough at the most crucial moment of the set, breaking serve to 15 as unforced errors started to overwhelm the Chinese, allowing the Romanian to have the golden opportunity to serve out the set. Despite Peng being able to get to deuce, Halep was still able to serve out the first set successfully as she clinched it 6-4 after 39 minutes of play.
Halep fends off tough challenge and saves a set point to triumph
Peng then displayed some great mental strength when she saved two break points in the opening game of the second set and prevented herself from falling behind the early deficit, allowing her to have a positive start to the set. Looking untouchable on her serve, Halep strolled to a comfortable service hold in the next game. As the match progressed, both players became more solid and consistent on their serves as a break point opportunity looked rare in this set. Nevertheless, it was the higher-ranked player who managed to make the first breakthrough after she won the break in the seventh game, taking a formidable lead of a set and a break.
Unexpectedly, with some amazing aggressive play, Peng managed to make an immediate reply as she broke straight back to return level on the scoreboard. Saving a break point in the process, the Chinese then got within a game of sending the match into a deciding set after she held her serve narrowly. The second set was eventually sent into a tiebreak to decide its winner as the scores were deadlocked at 6-6. The tiebreak was much of a similar storyline as compared to the whole of the second set as both players were not separated by more than one solitary point at any point of time. Fending off one set point along the way, Halep showed great mentality and closed out this high-quality affair in straight sets, triumphing after 98 minutes of play.
Stats Corner: Halep solid enough to eke out the victory
It was a great match played by both players, with both having a positive difference in their winner-unforced error count. Peng was obviously the more aggressive player on the court judging by the 27 winners she blasted past Halep during the affair, but it also came with a heavy price of 19 unforced errors which often came at the crucial moments. Although Halep only managed to hit 19 winners, she managed to force errors out of Peng with solid groundstrokes, with her tactics working well against hard-hitting players.