Simona Halep continues her title defense on Wednesday, taking on Magda Linette for a spot in the third round. Halep’s chances of winning look greater now after the withdrawal of one of her biggest rivals during Day 4 of the tournament. Kiki Bertens’ exit leaves a gap in the bottom half of the draw offering a good opportunity to the likes of Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Linette came into the tournament on a five match losing streak but was afforded a bit of draw luck this tournament, getting the opportunity to play a wildcard in Chloe Paquet. She came from a set down to beat the 25 year-old, who has never been ranked inside the top 150.
Many of the top contenders struggled in round one and you can apply that to Halep as well. She needed three sets to beat Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-2 3-6 6-1. It seemed like she would cruise through after a comfortable first set but would be pegged back, even if the outcome was never really in doubt after she broke in the opening game of the decider. “The level was great, and actually her level in the second set was really high. So I had to be focused more on myself to find out what I have to play better in the third set to be able to win.” she said of the match. “Of course it was not easy because of the emotions, the pressure, but it’s always nice to go back on that court.”
The toughness of the win could be the perfect thing to refocus Halep in her goal to defend her title. “I don’t put pressure on myself, negative pressure. Of course I feel the pressure, because I have also expectations for myself. I always play well here, so I want also this year to be the same. But I’m not going to put pressure on myself for the result.” she added.
Prediction – Simona Halep in straight sets