China Open: Simona Halep defeats Maria Sharapova for the first time, qualifies to quarter-finals

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Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, 2nd WTA, has defeated on Wednesday Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2 to qualify to the quarter-finals in Beijing, at China Open, with prizes of USD 6,381,679. It is Halep’s first win against Sharapova in eight direct matches.

Though Halep and Sharapova went the distance in four of their previous seven matches, the Romanian was never able to get a win in the head-to-head until the two met in the third round.

“It was a great match, I think I played my best tennis against her,” Halep told WTA Insider after the match. “I served pretty well, and the work that I did after the US Open, I could see it on court today.

“I’m really happy that I could do this. It’s my first victory against her and I just want to enjoy the moment.”

After having not played for nearly two years, the pair have now split two meetings in six weeks, with Halep avenging a first-round defeat at the US Open.

Halep broke the Russian’s spell over her with a clinical, clean performance over the one hour, 12-minute encounter, doubling her winners (12) to unforced errors (6).

Sharapova played over five hours of tennis in her first two matches in Beijing, defeating Anastasija Sevastova in three hours in the opening round before needed two hours and 12 minutes to see off compatriot Ekaterina Makarova on Tuesday.

“Today, it was just different because I never beat her, so it makes the moment a little bit special. I felt like I played like that before, and I still can play like that. I just want to be happy about what I did today, and tomorrow I can think about the next one,” Simona Halep said.

“I saw if I’m focused and I’m confident, I can hit the maximum that I can. I was very consistent today, there with confidence and just hitting the ball. I was relaxed and…actually many times I played against her, I felt like I could….beat her, but it didn’t happen. Today, I said it’s just another match, I just wanted to give everything I have, stay focused, calm and positive,” Halep also said.

Sharapova supported Halep’s assessment of her play after the match: “I think she played an incredible match, probably the best she’s played against me in all of our previous meetings. I wasn’t as sharp. I wasn’t seeing the ball as well. I wasn’t moving up and down as well as I have been against her.

“She was hitting the ball consistently, not making a lot of unforced errors, her service percentage was quite high. She did all the right things. She hit quite deep consistently. When I found myself far from the baseline, I didn’t do a good job of coming back in the court. Credit to her, she kept me back there with her consistency.”

The win for Halep sets up a quarterfinal meeting against the winner of the match between No.11 seed and defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska, or Daria Kasatkina, who defeated her last week at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, wtatennis.com informs.

In the previous rounds, Halep defeated: Magdalena Rybarikova (28th WTA) – dropped out due to alleged sickness from virus at the score of 6-1, 2-1 for Halep and Alison Riske 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

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