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Australian Open: Simona Halep, Ana Bogdan reach third round. Tecau/Rojer – through, Sorana Cirstea – out

Romanian tennis player, Simona Halep, 1st WTA, has allayed fears over the ankle injury sustained in her first-round match with a dominant 6-2, 6-2 defeat of unseeded Eugenie Bouchard in 65 minutes to move into the third round of the Australian Open.

It was the 26-year-old’s third victory in four meetings over her Canadian opponent – though they had not played since 2014, the year both players cracked the Top 10 for the first time. Since then, their paths had diverged. Halep ascended to World No.1 in October and maintained her grasp on the top spot by taking the Shenzhen Open title in the first week of 2018; Bouchard came into the Australian Open on a six-match losing streak, having fallen out of the Top 100 for the first time since April 2013, wtatennis.com informs.

In the opening stages, it was clear that the World No.112 was intent on testing her rival’s movement. Halep had gone over on her ankle during the second set of her first-round win over Destanee Aiava, and there had been fears about her ability to take to the court again.

Yet within a few games, it was apparent that the Romanian’s elite foot speed had not been compromised. A brilliant point in the third game saw Halep scampering up, down and side to side as she chased down a sequence of Bouchard bombs, eventually finishing with a scorching forehand of her own.

Time and again, the Canadian No.1 engaged her opponent in sharply angled rallies, but more often than not it was Halep who emerged on top of them. Meanwhile, the Romanian was executing her own tactics with a clear head: giving Bouchard no pace to work with on the backhand side, but testing the former World No.5’s erratic forehand side with depth and spin.

It was that wing that let Bouchard down the most over the course of the match. Fifteen of her 23 unforced errors came from that side, which Halep would routinely break down by stretching the 23-year-old out wide. By contrast, the two-time Roland Garros runner-up was accurate and aggressive with that stroke, landing nine of her 16 winners with it. When in full flow, Halep seemed able to hare across the court and hammer down-the-line winners on the run at will.

In the third round, Simona Halep will face Lauren Davis (US, 24, 76th WTA). In the only previous match between the two tennis players, Halep won 6-2, 6-0 at Indian Wells in 2013.

The surprising Ana Bogdan

Romanian tennis player Ana Bogdan (photo) has achieved the best performance of her career, by qualifying in the third round of a Grand Slam on Thursday at the Australian Open, by defeating Iulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan) 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Ana Bogdan (25, 104th WTA) has defeated her much better ranked opponent (23, 54th WTA) in two hours and 7 minutes.

She has secured a cheque of AUD 142,500 and 130 WTA points, and in the next round will face American Madison Keys, 17th seeded.

Also on Thursday, in the second round, Sorana Cîrstea was defeated by Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-4.

Cîrstea (27, 36th WTA) was defeated by the Czech player (30, 29th WTA) in one hour and 24 minutes.

Safarova now leads 5-1 in direct matches against Sorana. At last year’s edition, Cîrstea reached the finals, her best performance at the Australian Open.

In the doubles event, the pair made up by Romanian tennis player Horia Tecau and Dutchman Jean-Julien Rojer has qualified on Thursday to the second round of the Australian Open after defeating Argentineans Guillermo Duran/Andres Molteni 6-4, 6-3.

Tecau and Rojer, who have won the previous Grand Slam tournament, the US Open, are favourites number three in Melbourne.

About Valeriu Lazar