Chinese 6th seed Na Li faced 32nd ranked Simona Halep of Romania on Court 3 on Thursday. Surprisingly, Halep won their only previous encounter – in the 1st round of the 2011 US Open. Halep is in great form, having won her last two tournaments, on clay in Nurenburg and on grass at s’Hertogenbosch last week. After Li capturing the first two games, Halep got onto the scoreboard. However, the Chinese player allowed the Romanian just one more game, wrapping up the set 6-2. The second set was a complete turnaround as Halep regrouped and with some solid ground strokes put her opponent on the back foot, forcing a decider. But unfortunately for the Romanian, Li found her magic again and in her inimitable way, ran away with the decider to love.
With the only two players who in reality had the slightest chance of upsetting reigning champ Serena Williams out of the tournament – Victoria Azarenka with a knee injury and Maria Sharapova beaten by a qualifier – the American made her appearance on Centre Court to play Caroline Garcia of France. The very talented qualifier Garcia is ranked at 100. In their only meeting to date Williams beat Garcia 6-1 6-2 in the second round of this year’s French Open. In the first set games went with serve until the 5th game when the American broke Garcia to love. Each won another game before Williams broke again to take the set 6-3. In the second set both players held serve until the 5th game when Williams struck again, never looking back as she stormed to a 6-2 win. The American served nine aces, no doubles and her fastest serve was 123mph. She had 30 winners to Garcia’s 15; and 9 unforced errors to her opponent’s 5.