Wimbledon: Halep defeats Azarenka in straights sets to reach round of 16

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In a match of former Grand Slam champions and World No.1s, No.7 seed Simona Halep eased past Victoria Azarenka and into the round of 16 at Wimbledon, 6-3, 6-1.

From a 3-1 deficit early on, the former French Open champion won six straight games to take command against the two-time Australian Open champion on Centre Court, ultimately easing to victory in just 66 minutes, wtatennis.com informs.

“I’m very satisfied. I think was my best match this year. I played really well. I felt actually very confident. I’ve been aggressive all the match, even if I was 3-1 down first set,” Halep said.

“I expected a tough one. I expected she’s going to play well and she’s going to hit strong, so I knew that. I was ready for the match. I’m really happy that I could win against a player as Vika because she’s a great one.”

Halep hit 13 winners to just nine unforced errors in the match as Azarenka grew more erratic, with the Belarusian totaling 33 unforced errors to just 13 winners.

Azarenka had seven break point chances in the match, but managed to convert on just one, which was her third opportunity overall.

The No.7 seed saved a pair of break points to hold for 1-1 in the opener, but surrendered serve the next time she was challenged to fall behind, 3-1.

From there, however, Halep saved two break points in the sixth game, which would’ve seen Azarenka lead 4-2, and two more chances at 1-1 in the second set.

“It was another tough moment in the second set when I had breakpoints to go 2-0 and she came back,” added Halep. “She had a good moment at that moment. Then after I took 2-1 and 3-1, I started to feel confident that I can win the match.”

The two-time Australian Open champion and World No.40 was looking for her first win against Halep in seven years, having now lost three straight matches to the Romanian, and two straight at Wimbledon.

“I don’t really know what happened. I started couple games feeling pretty good and stuff and just couldn’t find the court,” Azarenka said.

“I missed just way too many easy shots, and those things you can’t afford, you know, against players, against top players. I mean, not really against anybody, but against top players, when you hit, like, a meter from the net and you miss the ball, you’re not going to win.

“I didn’t give myself that chance. I created all the opportunities. I didn’t give myself a chance. To come out and play like that on Centre Court, very, very disappointed. She kept being solid, taking everything that I was giving, and I gave her a lot.”

All three of Halep’s victories against Azarenka have been at Grand Slams, with her first coming at the 2015 US Open, and her second coming at Wimbledon in 2017, shortly following Azarenka’s return from the birth of her son, Leo.

The No.7 seed advances to a Manic Monday match against either Polona Hercog, or 15-year-old American sensation Cori Gauff, set to close out Friday’s action on Centre Court.

“The young one, [Gauff] I never played against. I didn’t see a match of her. I know she beat Venus and it’s a good result. Playing third round in Wimbledon at 15, it’s great. But I don’t know a lot about her,” Halep said.

“I played against [Hercog] last week in Eastbourne. I know how I have to play against her, but every match is different. She is serving pretty well, pretty strong.

“I have to be stronger the return first. I have to be ready to take my chances and to be confident because I have the chance to win.”

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