Top seed Halep too good for Mertens


Simona Halep of Romania plays a forehand during her women's singles match against Elise Mertens of Belgium at the French Open on Monday in Paris. Photo: VCG

Most players are reluctant to admit they get shaky on court but not Simona ­Halep who embraces the nervous energy and is ready to feel all the emotion as she progresses at the French Open.

The world No.1 has played three Grand Slam finals and lost them all, including two at Roland Garros, and rare are the times when she does not open up about her early-match jitters.

On Monday, she blazed into the quarterfinals by crushing Belgian Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-1 as she showed her full range of weapons.

The 26-year-old Romanian started slowly but once she found her groove, there was nothing the 16th seed could do to avoid a one-sided defeat.

"I don't know how the other players are before the matches, but I think I am very nervous before every match, and this is because I am like this," said Halep.

Despite the nerves, Halep was way too good for her 22-year-old opponent on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Mertens entered the tournament having won two second-tier events on clay including 16 wins and one defeat, albeit against Halep last month in Madrid when she was comprehensively beaten.

The story was the same on Monday as Halep, a French Open finalist in 2014 and 2017, broke for 2-1 in the opening set and never looked back as she outmaneuvered Mertens, who was sent chasing the ball all over the court.

The Belgian pulled a break back in the second set but then trailed 5-0 as the top seed punched a ticket for the last eight when Mertens served a double fault on the first match point.

Saved by fading light the night before, there was no escape for world No.2 Caroline Wozniacki as Russian Daria Kasatkina completed a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 victory to reach the fourth round of the French Open.

Kasatkina, the 14th seed, had played beautifully to lead 7-6, 3-3 on Sunday when play was called off but any hopes Australian Open champion Wozniacki harbored that her 21-year-old opponent's level would dip on the resumption proved fanciful.

It was all over in a matter of minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier as Kasatkina rattled off the three games she needed to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Having disposed of one reigning Grand Slam champion, Kasatkina, who has dropped just one set so far, will next face another in US Open winner, Sloane Stephens.

Serena Williams announced her shock withdrawal from the French Open on Monday with injury just minutes before her scheduled fourth-round clash against longtime rival Maria Sharapova.

The 36-year-old said she had suffered a pectoral muscle injury in her third-round win over Julia Goerges and "can't serve at all."

The 23-time Grand Slam champion added that she would stay in Paris for scans on the injury to find out how long she will be out of action.






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