US Open: Simona Halep takes dominant strides into the round-of-16

Simona Halep defeated Karolina Kucova 6-3, 6-1 to reach the third round of the 2021 US Open. This is the first time in five years – since 2016 – the Romanian’s reached this far at Flushing Meadows.

Halep secured an early break to take the lead in the first set but was broken back in the sixth game. The 12th seed went on to retaliate by winning the next six games on the trot that first helped her win the opening set and then take a 3-0 lead in the second set.

Coming into the Major, Halep carried injury concerns but as in her first-round match in New York, the former world no. 1 didn’t show any signs of being hampered by injury against Kucova on Wednesday. The Romanian was able to cover the court well and also tire out her opponent with her shot-making, finishing with 19 winners and 18 unforced errors. In comparison, the Slovakian had 10 winners and 15 unforced errors.

For a place in the fourth round, Halep will play either 19th seed Elena Rybakina or Caroline Garcia.

Earlier, defending champion and third seed Naomi Osaka received a walkover into the third round after her second-round opponent, Olga Danilovic withdrew with illness. In a post on Instagram, the Serbian shared that although she was feeling ill it wasn’t due to Covid-19.

“Hi everyone…I am so sad to have to withdrawal from my match this morning. I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-covid related viral illness. I was really looking forward to playing against Naomi on Arthur Ashe Stadium today, but not to be this time. I just want to say a big thank you to medical staff here in Us Open and everyone for your support and I cannot wait to be back in New York at this amazing tournament next year,” Danilovic said in her post.

Osaka will play Leylah Fernandez for a spot in the second week. The Canadian defeated Kaia Kanepi 7-5, 7-5 in the second round.

US Open: Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka battle through

Ninth seed Garbine Muguruza held her nerves and her erratic play to beat Andrea Petkovic in their second-round clash. Although the score read 6-4, 6-2 in the Spaniard’s favour, she’d to struggle against the German who, despite trailing her higher-ranked opponent throughout the match, went toe-to-toe with her.

In the third round, Muguruza will play 18th seed Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian came through in a similar match against Italian Jasmine Paolini, prevailing 6-3, 7-6(1).

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina wrapped up a 6-2, 7-5 win over Spaniard Rebeka Masarova in the second round. The Ukrainian now awaits either Marketa Vondrousova or 25th seed Daria Kasatkina.

Ons Jabeur and Elise Mertens will play each other for a place in the fourth round of the 2021 US Open. The Tunisian, seeded 20th in the draw, dropped just one game against Colombian Maria Camila Osorio Serrano. The Belgian, seeded 15th, posted a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Greek qualifier Valentini Grammatikopolou.

Photo Credit: Darren Carroll/USTA