Simona Halep survived a tough first set to see off Zarina Diyas in straight sets, winning 7-6(5) 6-2. After ruthlessly dispatching of Nao Hibino 6-2 6-0 in just 45 minutes in the previous round many expected a similar story for Halep against Diyas however it was to be anything but.
The 6th seed started slowly going 4-1 down to Diyas as the 22 year old from Kazakhstan came racing out the blocks playing some great tennis to take Halep by surprise. Eventually clawing her way back into the set, Halep broke back to take the set into a tie-break. Stamping her authority in the tie-break, the Romanian played some stubborn tennis to see off Diyas’ challenge and all but kill off Diyas' fight.
Halep steps up a gear in second set
This was proven in the second set as Halep raced into a 4-1 lead before closing off the set to seal her place in the third round, improving on her performance last year. After reaching the final in 2014, Halep met arch nemesis Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the second round and experienced a disappointing loss. With a favourable draw this year, the 24 year old will have her eyes on the trophy and on current form many expect her to reach at least the semi-finals. She moves on to the third round where she will relieved to learn she will not be facing Lucic-Baroni, who she was expecting to meet as the Croatian endured a surprise loss to Naomi Osaka.
Grass season beckons for Diyas
For Diyas, it was an encouraging performance as she moves onto the grass season culminating in Wimbledon, in which the Kazakh has reached the fourth round in the past two years. After a tough year tumbling to a ranking of 90 after reaching a career high ranking of 31 last year, she will be relieved not to have dropped points, matching last year’s second round at Roland Garros.